Can the Patient-Doctor Relationship be Saved?

July 22, 2015

 
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You’ll be a patient some day soon. Your life will depend on having trusted, skilled advocates in your corner. Patients are often scared, frequently dependent on others for life, and in great need of a sense of safety and care. This intimate vulnerability is the basis for the Hippocratic oath, medical ethics and patient confidentiality.
 
But how cared for and safe do you feel in today’s health care system? Consider:
 
  • Is your insurance card requested before your name?
  • Are you given questionnaires to gather personal details on you and your family unrelated to the visit?
  • Are you forced to see a physician’s assistant instead of a physician?
  • If you want to pay cash, are you made to feel second-class?
  • Does the consent form force you to agree to other things (e.g. research) even if you only want to consent to treatment and billing?
  • Does the doctor look you in the eye or stare at the computer?
  • Is a scribe in the room listening and clicking your words into a computer?
  • Has your physician told you your tests and treatment options could be limited by the computer?
  • If you want to talk about more than one issue, must you make another appointment?
  • If you bring a list of questions, are they welcomed?
  • Are detailed discharge instructions and sufficient time to ask questions provided?
  • Does your hospital put your care under a hospitalist, an employee of the hospital, rather than your own doctor’s care?
 
Under managed care, the mission of medicine is being usurped by the business of health care. A collusive cabal of health plans, corporate hospitals and government agencies empowered by Medicare and the HMO Act of 1973 hold the dollars and impose checklists, scorecards, “lump sum” annual payments for treating patients, and interoperable electronic health records (EHRs) to control treatment decisions. For stunning evidence of this collusion see News to Know #6 below.
 
Patients are vulnerable not only because of illness, but because the health care system is increasingly aligned against them. Because they do not pay the bills, they are not in charge.
 
Start protecting yourself. To regain control, ask employer for your entire compensation in cash. Consider a health sharing organization instead of health insurance to cut costs and increase choices. Find a direct-pay physician, or a cash-for-care clinic so your physician will actually work for you. Use a private lab to reduce the cost of blood work (e.g. Request a Test). Pick a hospital that lets your doctors be in charge.  Send a donation of $50, $120, or $150 to CCHF today to support our continued efforts to protect patients by reclaiming the mission of medicine.
 
Take these actions now to keep life-saving, cash-friendly alternatives in business. By doing it, you will help CCHF build a “Wedge of Freedom,” a legal zone where patients and doctors can work together without interference, intrusion, or outside restraints. You’ll be glad you did.
 
Advancing the mission of medicine for ethical integrity and patient safety,
 
Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President and Co-founder
 
P.S. On Friday, hear me in a live webcast conversation with Dr. Gina Melink at 12:30 MDT at UPSA “Summit at the Summit” conference in Keystone, Colorado (http://letmydoctorpractice.org)