|Panel Discusses Doctor-Patient-Government Relationship |
On Tuesday September 26, 2017, three panels of prominent voices in the health care community gathered to discuss the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. Even more so, they gave valuable insight into how doctors, patients, caregivers, and advocates can navigate the complex health care system. They also addressed what policy changes can be made to make sure patients receive the best care and access to innovative and cost-effective therapies. Although the speakers had varying perspectives and backgrounds, there was one underlying message that was made clear: the doctor-patient relationship is the key to successful health care programs, and our health care system today is straying away from the importance of that relationship.
Panelists discussed the importance of educating the patient, noting that in today’s world, “all types of medical information is available right at our fingertips.” Patients must be aware of their condition, the circumstances surrounding that condition, their treatment and their diagnosis. Although “Dr. Google” – as many panelists explained – is one way to potentially find this information, there is no better source than hearing it straight from your physician. From there, an informed patient should be able to make the best decision regarding what is best for them. CEO of the National Patient Advocate Foundation, Alan Balch, recommended finding a way to systemize this shared decision making in a three-step process.
“The first step is to establish a sense of shared decision making between the doctor and the patient. The second step is for them both to come up with an effective care plan, and the final step is to find measures for this care plan, which would in turn result in better reimbursement,” said Balch.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) provided a brief statement about how physicians should inform their patients, by referencing the “golden rule” for physician-patient care. Essentially, doctors need to put themselves in the shoes of the patient they are taking care of. All speakers believed this should be the centerpiece for our health care system, but the speakers also brought up several problems that surround this ideology.
One major problem disrupting the doctor-patient relationship is the amount of work doctors are required to do by the federal government and insurance companies. This work, commonly referenced as the business side of medicine, can sometimes force a disconnect between doctors and their patients. President of the American Medical Association, David Barbe, M.D. said that “documentation needs to be a much quicker process and not such a burden for physicians.” Both Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Kim Templeton, M.D. were especially adamant about the fact that doctors spend too much time on the business side of medicine, which is taking away from their time and energy to cultivate that doctor-patient relationship. This can create burnout due to the simple fact that doctors want to be with patients, not doing paperwork and data. Rep. Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.) had a similar conflict with the government’s role in the health care community, declaring that the federal government is unable to help with medical care, because the care that patients get is up to the physicians. Doris Browne, M.D., was not quite as critical of government, but did state that a collaborative approach between insurance companies, government, patients, and physicians is necessary for improvement of the health care system.
Although the federal government and insurance companies can cause problems for physicians, the speakers on the three panels offered means of counteracting these problems. Andy Lazris, M.D., author of the book “Curing Medicare,” proposed that doctors should receive more pay when consulting and talking with patients than they do for performing the various tasks that come with the job. Another popular recourse that was commonly discussed throughout the panels was the concept of transparency, and increasing transparency through policy. Dr. Barbe also suggested that a potential role of the government could be to help with the current burden of paperwork and data that doctors face, causing them to spend half the amount of time with patients as they do with office work.
Doctors, patients, and the government working together to help increase the doctor-patient relationship may not be able to be transcribed into legislation, but its importance was made loud and clear from the prominent speakers at the Newseum on Tuesday September 26. For more information, visit http://www.politico.com/live-events/2017/09/26/the-doctor-patient-and-government-relationship-242601.