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Tag: decision tree

Lessons from MinuteClinic

After entering the clinic a thought occurred to me: why do we need doctors? Then a second thought: why do we need nurses?

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

About a decade before the Obama administration started touting electronic medical records and evidence-based protocols there was MinuteClinic. The entity came into existence primarily to cater to patients paying out of pocket.

There was no need for a law requiring price transparency. In every market where the dominant buyers are patients spending their own money, prices are always transparent. MinuteClinic posts its prices on a computer screen and on readily available pamphlets. Clearly, the organization is competing on price. Entities that compete for patients based on price usually compete on quality as well. One study found that MinuteClinic nurses following computerized protocols follow best practice medicine more consistently than conventional primary care physicians. They also do a pretty good job of knowing what kind of medical problems they are competent to handle and which problems need referral to a physician.

Wherever you find price competition you usually also find that providers are respectful of your time. As the name “MinuteClinic” implies, this is an organization that knows you value your time as well as your pocketbook. I couldn’t help but wonder if the entire health care system might be this user friendly, if only the third-party payers weren’t around.

For the first 15 minutes of my 20 minute visit, the nurse barely looked at me. She was sitting in front of a computer screen typing in my answers to her questions, as she went through the required decision tree. I didn’t mind. Mine was a minor problem and I did not want to pay for more sophisticated service.

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Why Calculators Are the Future of Healthcare

Thomas goetz

Want to know the future of medicine and healthcare in one sentence?

For my money, it goes like this: The real opportunity in healthcare is to combine our personal data with the huge amount of general biomedical and public health research, in order to create customized information that’s specific to our person and our circumstance. We need relevance, and the right information at the right time will help us make better choices for prevention, helping us stay healthier longer, it’ll help us navigate diagnosis, letting us select screening tests that are useful and not unnecessarily fearful, and it’ll let us make better decisions on care and treatment – when we’re trying to choose among various treatments to find our way back to health.

It’s in the last category – care and treatment – that I wrote a recent post at the Huffington Post about one man’s story with prostate cancer. Tom Neville got a diagnosis and then had to struggle to find information to help him make sense of what to do. Ultimately, he chose surgery, but the difficulty of the choice led him to create Soar Biodynamics, a company that offers decision-making support for men assessing their prostate health.Continue reading…

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