As we observe the month of February known as the Heart month, as well as Black History month, and even known for Valentine’s Day. However, also in in February this year, we celebrate the fourth anniversary of our Low Cost Quality Healthcare with its initial vision, to “Bring the Heart back in Medicine”. We have been continuously working hard over the course of four years to fix the ills of unhealthy healthcare delivery system. It should be driven by doing what is right by patients, address their needs, but sadly the main driver for the healthcare system is (Profit)!
Doctors who dedicate their life to being trained to take care of patients are supposed to be the ones who control 100% of health care dollars as no patient can get out of bed unless there is order written by the doctor. Similarly, tests, procedures, and even type of meals are only done according to doctor’s orders. However due to the change in the healthcare system, doctors have been pushed to the bottom of the chain of the healthcare industry. This ended up in harming patients in many ways.
For example, when acquisition mania started in 2008 ended up in 50% of independent physicians to be forced to work for corporate. This in turn caused consumers to pay for the rising cost of health care. In addition, this also created an environment where the employee has to serve the employer’s interest in order to produce and help gain profit. However, the employee ultimately gets reimbursed based on the famous formula of Relative Value Units,( RVUs) they produced.
For example for Emergency Room Colleagues, there is pressure to admit patients to help generate revenue until recently where when CMS (Center for Medicare Services) started to impose penalties for patient readmission to the hospital. In an instance where a patient suffers from Congestive Heart Failure, they would have to pay up to $ 2500 per readmission. This is the penalty for a patient being readmitted within the duration of 30 days for another episode of Congestive Heart Failure. In 2015, the penalty is expected to increase even more because of a strained budget. This model has not proved to be effective as people have begun to realize that ‘you can not keep kicking the can down the road any further’. Serious steps must be taken to face the ever-increasing healthcare cost that is running individuals to bankruptcy and potentially our current healthcare system as well!
According to a recent published article in The New York Times, the importance of disease prevention and out patient delivery of most healthcare services will constitute significant saving up to 30 billion dollars simply when the same services done in an out patient setting. This will get rid of the big gap in pricing between in patient and out patient for the same test as usually the price difference is being dumped on the patient to pay out of pocket.
In the Internet Era , most patients or a member of their family have already done some sore of a quick Google search about a medical condition they might be experiencing. They read about the required testing and therapeutic options, after that, they will shop around for the best price and will question any additional cost because of the economic pressures that so many are facing nowadays. Patients will go to ‘Dr. Google’ to help them with their condition as seen in an instance where a patient will simply type in their symptoms into a search bar and will receive all information needed to relieve the symptoms however this did not work and usually patients will ultimately be admitted.
Now with digital technology, there are applications that will help physicians take care of patients. For example, there are applications that pick up on abnormal heart rhythm and can differentiate between a serious heart rhythm and an insignificant rhythm thus helping in patient triage.
So I believe the middle of the road approach which will best serve the patient (consumer) and also change the current culture of looking only at bottom line , will be a hybrid approach which will allow patients/ consumers to get most of their healthcare needs 90-95% on out patient basis with emphasis on Disease prevention, Comprehensive Wellness and Stress Management , all elements needed by everyone and keep the catastrophic coverage to cover any emergencies that could happen!
The key elements of future healthcare is Low Cost which we have proven in our program over the past four years that is real and achievable with so many testimonials on social media to share their experience with our program, but never the less, all this was achieved without compromising the quality of healthcare!
Patients do appreciate such programs as they shop around for the best prices for caring affordable healthcare provider that will serve them , save them plenty , educate them and advocate for them as well. Also, as we look into those we served we noted how we made a positive impact in their life, took the added stress away, and helped give back to our community fight hunger especially during this cold winter days as there is so much need for it out there!
It is a dignified model for the patient, provider and the entire community as we strive daily to ‘Bring the Heart back in Medicine’, not just during the Heart month, but rather all year round!