Health Care Reform: Learning the Power of “No”

Last month The New York Times’ David Leonhardt wrote an article on the power of “no” and how it should be applied to medicine.  Leonhardt’s point was that society has embraced a culture of trying everything, every test in the book, every treatment that may or may not be ideal for the condition.  While this has lead to some great benefits in solving health related issues, it has also lead to patients expecting more tests and treatments than are actually necessary for proper treatment of their symptoms.

Leonhardt has some valid points and we both agree that patient expectations are not going to change over night.  So, how can doctors start to prepare their practices and their patients for the changes coming as a result of the Health Care Reform?

Focus on giving the patient as much information as possible and empower them to make their own free choice.  This includes educating them on side effects, benefits, as well as cost.  Cost is not something that a lot of patients have had to understand or even cared much about.  It has been lumped into their current insurance costs and thus out of sight out of mind.  But as health care costs move closer and closer to the patient, guiding them to understand the cost-benefit ratio will rely on you, the health care professional.
But we want to hear from you as well.  What do you think of Leonhardt’s argument?  Can we change the American “yes” culture to one that is more reasoned and embraces the option of “no”?  What experience shave you had with your patiences that have worked in curbing excessive treatments or tests?

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