What do patients really want? Most surveys, formal and informal, indicate patients want two things, consistently, above others: one, to feel like they’ve been heard; and, two, to have access to doctors when they need them.
Being “heard” means a desire for meaningful and timely communication, not edicts. We want to feel involved with our care. “Access” means an appointment sooner than a week from Wednesday.
When we drill deeper into the question of access, patients unanimously express a desire to use asynchronous communication platforms like secure texting, in-mail messaging, or email to communicate directly to their doctor. Without question, most of us are comfortable with the technology we use in our daily life to communicate with friends, family, vendors, and business associates. We prefer to leverage those tools to make medical care more efficient and convenient. We want lifestyle-friendly care that matches our 21st century lifestyle!
But within our insurance-driven healthcare landscape, barriers to lifestyle friendly communication can impede access and impair timely exchange of information between doctors and patients. These clinical shortcomings abound, stemming from our Fee-for-Coding mentality. Patient service-related inadequacies take the form of fragmented care, over-utilization of specialists, poor communication and dissatisfied patients; and are often traced back to the moral hazard and poor value proposition fostered by our healthcare payment methods.