Like everything else in life health care is changing. The change is speeding down a narrow slope and is picking up speed. The days of looking in the yellow pages for a family doctor, calling and making an appointment have been eclipsed by a brief click on your smart phone to show you where the nearest clinic is open. While this makes finding care easier, it does not necessarily make finding the right care easier. Insurance companies, referral networks, deductibles, and co-pays all enter into this equation leaving most consumers frustrated and confused. All of this new bureaucratic friction causes patient/provider friction with the resulting fire being fanned by the incompetence of a new health care model that forgot the “health care” part.
Providers now have to implement EMR (electronic medical records) into their practice with the average cost of implementation floating around the 100k mark. The good news (see sarcasm) is that providers are now being paid less and the insurance networks are growing. More “insured” patients mean longer wait times while new complex (see obamacare) policies are checked for actual benefits where as the patient is informed they have higher deductibles and co-pays. The patient is now frustrated by the wait and the results of their insurance benefits and have not even seen the provider yet. The provider sees the patient and refers the patient to a specialist only to find out that all the “good specialists” are out of network. The patient then grows more frustrated as they berate the physician’s staff because they “don’t have their referral yet”. The patient turns their frustration to their smart phone and begins to light up the google rating of the doctor’s office. The doctor’s office submits the visit for payment and receives about $45 dollars 3-4 weeks later or a request for more information. The bottom line is that both patients and providers are losing time and money with no relief in site. The question is, what do we do now?