At DocSpot, our mission is to connect people with the right health care by helping them navigate publicly available information. We believe the first step of that mission is to help connect people with an appropriate medical provider, and we look forward to helping people navigate other aspects of their care as the opportunities arise. We are just at the start of that mission, so we hope you will come back often to see how things are developing.
An underlying philosophy of our work is that right care means different things to different people. We also recognize that doctors are multidimensional people. So, instead of trying to determine which doctors are "better" than others, we offer a variety of filter options that individuals can apply to more quickly discover providers that fit their needs.Got questions?
In what might be a bit of a silver lining to health care's high prices, Kaiser Health News published a piece about churches wiping out others' medical debt for a small fraction of the actual loan value. An example listed in the article is one church paying $22,000 to wipe out $2.2 million of medical debt for others.
This story is a feel-good story of people using leverage to wipe out what is commonly a huge source of stress for others. Unfortunately, the ratio of the amount paid to the nominal loan value speaks to how high the original medical bills were to begin with. Someone not having insurance likely also does not the means to pay for a major medical procedure. Hospitals might try to bill patients for the expensive procedures, only to realize over time that the patients are unable to pay. The medical institutions might then sell the debt for very little to debt collectors, who then in turn might sell the debt after they have tried collecting. One might imagine that a better system would be one in which prices for medical procedures were more affordable to begin with and fewer people had to deal with the stress of outsized medical debt.
Historically, businesses have been reluctant to pay additional taxes and have wanted fuller control over the benefits that they might offer. Health insurance, for example, has long been tied to employment in the US, with various employers offering differing levels of coverage. Over the last couple of decades, businesses have noted the rapid rise in health insurance premiums, but very few have publicly stated that they want nationalized health insurance. Kaiser Health News published a piece highlighting how some small businesses are pushing for Medicare for All.
The piece offered the explanation from a leader of a business coalition that large businesses are still hesitant to publicly support the nationalization of health care. Perhaps small businesses have less budget to accommodate the rapid rise in health insurance premiums and are therefore more open to government intervention. One CEO explained: "It makes no more sense for an airline to understand health policy for the bulk of its workers than for a health facility to have to supply all the air transportation for its employees."
The New York Times published a piece that discusses research showing that a small percentage of physicians are disproportionately responsible for (associated with) a large number of claims ("about 2 percent of doctors accounted for about 39 percent of all claims in the United States").
To conduct the most recent study, authors used the National Practitioner Data Bank, which is a national database that tracks "malpractice payments and certain adverse actions related to health care practitioners, providers, and suppliers." Unfortunately for the public, access to the database is limited to certain entities such as as hospitals. The authors found that "more than 90 percent of doctors who had at least five claims were still in practice" -- meaning that whatever self-regulating mechanism the industry thinks is in place likely is not effective. Given that repeat offenders can continue to practice, it seems that for all of the industry's talk of patient safety, the adverse actions in the National Practitioner Data Bank should be made publicly available.
We are pleased to announce the release of a new feature: providers who claim their profiles can now leave responses to online reviews on their profile. There have been times when providers have written in with additional details regarding a review. Previously, there was no way for providers to publicly respond, leading some providers to feel that the system was one-sided in favor of patients. Now, however, providers can leave public responses, giving them a chance to add additional context.
As others have noted elsewhere, providers should be careful to not release any private health information.
Kaiser Health News reported that Walmart is steering its workers (and dependents) towards higher-quality imaging centers. Apparently, "some academic research has found mistakes on advanced images such as CT scans and MRIs can reach up to 30% of diagnoses" -- very high compared to the 3%-5% that the article reports that typical radiology practices experience. While patients can still choose to go to other imaging centers, they end up paying more.
Interestingly, the article reported that Walmart found out about the discrepancy in error rates when they heard back from certain treatment centers that patients were misdiagnosed or recommended the incorrect procedure. Diagnostic mistakes can be very expensive, and can have a huge impact on quality and length of patients' lives. If the details are indeed as laid out in the article and if the quality designations are accurate, it sounds like there can be a tremendous opportunity for both cost savings and better outcomes for patients.
Naturally, providers that are not on the list would be concerned. It would be great if the healthcare community developed and adopted transparent quality metrics that could be published throughout the industry to help consumers decide which medical centers and hospitals to visit.