Saturday, February 10, 2007

Attending to patients' sense of security

I think one of the most important things to patients/consumers is to feel secure in the belief that they do and will receive the best possible care -- tailored to their particular needs, characteristics, and preferences -- which is delivered in a safe, timely, and efficient (cost-effective) manner.

This is an emotional issue related to having trust and confidence in (a) the knowledge and competence of their providers, (b) the safety of the healthcare delivery system, and (c) the ability for the system to be prepared and respond effectively in emergencies (bioterrorism, pandemics, natural disasters, etc.).
An informed consumer would likely feel quite insecure considering the knowledge gap problem, safety and quality problems, our insane economic and competition models, and the split between sick-care and well-care and between mind and body care, which reflect today’s healthcare environment.

If I’m correct, rallying the public first requires educating them about why feeling insecure about their health and finances is the most rational reaction to the current healthcare system. They then have to debate what changes are necessary to transform the system, which requires further education, along with good collaborative communication for discussing and evaluating ideas. Emerging from this dialogue would be a transformational model detailing the strategies and tactics necessary to make them feel more secure. It will likely include recommendations for policies, practices, models and processes designed to help their providers deliver continually improving care quality and reward them for doing it efficiently and effectively, to monitor populations for outbreaks and have responding to emergencies, as well as ways to make universal coverage a reality.

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