health care in United States


Almost all of us have been to the doctor at some point or the other in our lives. One of the common things you would have noted in your meetings with your doctor is him scribbling down notes. But, have you wondered what he writes in such notes? Do you think you should be allowed to see those notes? And, are you prepared to see what your doctor might have written about your meeting and your physiological and psychological conditions?

A lot of what’s in that note is objective stuff about your blood pressure, weight and blood count. But often your doctor puts down subjective impressions.

Did you seem down? Anxious? Angry? Drinking too much? Not so mentally sharp? Physicians also may speculate about a tentative diagnosis – maybe a scary one – they haven’t shared with you.

What do you think doctors would feel about letting patients see their notes? As you would guess, there are mixed opinions. Some feel comfortable while others don’t. It ranges from ‘Well, transparency is here, this will be good for patients, they’ll be more actively involved in their care, this is a terrific idea,‘ to ‘This is the worst thing I’ve ever heard of.

Doctors’ notes are not really secret anyway. Other doctors see them. Insurance companies and lawyers do. And under a 1996 federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, patients have every right to see their complete medical records. But as Dr. Tom Delbanco of Harvard Medical School (HMS) puts it, “You can get it but we do everything in the world to make sure you don’t get it. The medical record has traditionally been viewed by the medical establishment as something that they own. They think: ‘It’s my private notes. This is my stuff.'”

Check out below for some other kinds of opinions that different doctors share:

  • “Information should be accessible, but that will mean more work for doctors who may need to explain their notes to patients.”
  • “My hope is that it will be a method of communicating with patients, so patients can see what we’re thinking, where our head is, what our plans are, why we’re suggesting what we do.”
  • “We may be less candid. We may not as accurately describe the mood of the patient, the tenor of the encounter, for fear that we may get someone perhaps already a little angry during the encounter – more so after they log on and read the note that I just finished.”
  • “Physicians are scared of this kind of thing. But the big, broad directions are clear. Which is: Patients have to be at the center of their care more and more. That doesn’t mean patients call the shots. But patients really have to be a team member. To be a team member, they’ve got to see the playbook. And doctors will have to learn to be respectful in the way they write their notes in some situation.”
  • “If there’s some delicate problem, doctors shouldn’t dodge that topic, and patients should be prepared to see some things which may be a little painful for them to confront too.”

Your doctor’s reservations to this idea are understandable:

  • It will be more work for them, because patients will call up wanting to know what something means, or demanding corrections.
  • It might lead to more lawsuits.
  • It might scare the hell out of patients.

Source: Adapted from the NPR story – “Doctors Don’t Agree On Letting Patients See Notes” by Richard Knox

For affordable and quality medical care in the United States, check out domestic medical tourism. For surgery abroad, check out medical tourism.

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Medical Tourism is no longer restricted to outbound medical tourism i.e. Americans seeking care outside of the country. Domestic medical tourism is gathering pace as more and more Americans are now crossing state borders to take advantage of cheaper prices available for quality health care out-of-state. It’s amazing to know that the price differential on healthcare within the same country can be tremendous if only you take the trouble to shop for it.

Recently Healthbase partnered with many health care providers in several states within the United States. The prices on major procedures that these providers offer to Healthbase clients are as low as 10% of the prevailing cost of those procedures in other typical hospitals within the country. Read more about this partnership.

So how can some US providers offer such low rates?
Patients can avail of such low rates if they choose the one-pay option. AARP Bulletin Today recently covered the story of Rodney Larson, an uninsured Minnesota resident and a Healthbase customer who had his triple bypass surgery at a heart care hospital in Kansas.

According to the bulletin,

As a father to nine daughters, electrician Rodney Larson always looks for ways to cut costs. So in 2008 when he was told he needed triple bypass surgery – totaling $80,000 or more – he shopped around.

Rodney Larson traveled within the United States for heart surgery

Rodney Larson traveled within the United States for heart surgery.

Larson, 56, of Boyd, Minn., searched the Internet and found a hospital that would do the surgery for $13,200. The facility, Galichia Heart Hospital in Wichita, Kan., participates in a domestic medical tourism program run by Healthbase Online.

Located in Boston, Healthbase is one of a handful of companies reaching out to U.S. hospitals to provide specialty surgeries at much lower costs than traditional providers. The company also offers international medical tourism – in which patients travel abroad for procedures – but is finding a market for U.S. specialty hospitals.

Most patients who use medical tourism companies are uninsured and must pay upfront for procedures. Larson liked the one-pay option.

“They saved me a lot of money, but the point is, it was excellent care,” he says.

Source: AARP Bulletin Today

Available procedures
Most major procedures are available at discounted rates within the US through Healthbase. Procedures fall in the categories of cardiac, orthopedic, bariatric, spinal, etc.

Want to know if the procedure you need is available and how much it costs?

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