Reforming Health Care by Putting Patients in Charge: Our Op-Ed in the Sun
As reformers attempt to fix our health care delivery system, they are dancing around what counts the most: the cost of health care. Pundits and “experts,” politicians and physician groups, devise convoluted schemes to expand insurance coverage while lowering premiums, without working to change our low-value health care delivery system. Our medical system squanders a trillion dollars a year by incentivizing wasteful spending for medicines, tests, and procedures that do not help patients. The unfortunate reality is that patients are not meaningful participants in their own health care decisions. That is because they are given misleading information about the efficacy and side effects of medical interventions.
In a new op-ed published in today’s Baltimore Sun, Erik Rifkin and I argue that if patients are given accurate health care information, they can make decisions that are best for them and best for the health care system, representing the ultimate solution to our health care mess. Studies show that when patients are provided with the risks and benefits of interventions using easily interpreted decision aids, they make more sensible, less costly decisions. In fact, when patients are put in charge of their individual health care decisions, premiums drop and outcome improves. We provide a simple, easily achievable blueprint that can be used by Congress, CMS, the insurance industry, and patient advocacy groups like AARP to utilize patient-centered shared decision making as the driving force for meaningful health care reform. To us, it’s really that simple: put the patients in charge, given them accurate information, and everything else will follow.