Have a Story to Tell? Had a medical error?

This blog is about patient safety, medical malpractice, staying healthy, and preventing future errors. Help & empower someone else, Teach a lesson, Bear witness, Build our community - Email us or call 781-444-5525.

Frustrated with a health problem?

Need an ally in your health crisis? Call 781-444-5525, or learn more.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

He's the guy with the medical degree: Obama's vision of government's role on treatment options

President Obama outlined his vision for the healthcare system in an interview with Andrew Leonhardt, published in the New York Times Magazine:

Consumers have gotten more active in their own treatments in a way that's very useful.  That should continue to be encouraged, to the extent that we can provide consumers with more information about their own well-being.

When it comes to medical care, I know how to ask good questions of my doctor.  But ultimately, he's the guy with the medical degree.  If my doctor tells me, You know what, you’ve got such-and-such and you need to take such-and-such, I don't go around arguing with him or go online to see if I can find a better opinion than his.

And so, in that sense, there's always going to be an asymmetry of information between patient and provider.  And part of what I think government can do effectively is to be an honest broker in assessing and evaluating treatment options.  And certainly that's true when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, where the taxpayers are footing the bill and we have an obligation to get those costs under control.  

When Peter Orszag and I talk about the importance of using comparative effectiveness studies as a way of reining in costs, that’s not an attempt to micromanage the doctor-patient relationship.  It is an attempt to say to patients, you know what, we've looked at some objective studies out here, people who know about this stuff, concluding that the blue pill, which costs half as much as the red pill, is just as effective, and you might want to go ahead and get the blue one.  And if a provider is pushing the red one on you, then you should at least ask some important questions.  

Thanks to Andrew Leonhardt for the source article in the NY Times Magazine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I work in a hospital and see every day how patient's that take an active roll in their care are safer. Simply making healthcare providers explain why they are doing what they are doing provides a double-check.

Friendly RPh