Consultant recommends patient involvement, but EMRs should change the parameters

Consultants love to put out lists and commentary related to something in the news, in hopes that some reporter will pick up on their opinions and include them in news stories. Mission accomplished, Leslie Michelson.

Michelson, chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based Private Health Management, mentions how the U.S. healthcare sector soon will have to find room for 32 million newly insured patients at the same time millions of baby boomers head into retirement and likely will need more healthcare services to treat chronic diseases. "These major changes will require individuals to take much greater control of their own healthcare to ensure that they and their loved ones are receiving the best care the system can offer," Private Health Management says in a press release.

Michelson then offers 10 tips for taking control of one's care. "Insist on being an active participant in your healthcare," is one. "Evaluate how well your current physicians will be able to treat you going forward," is another. Fair enough.

But then he starts talking about health information. "Plan for the worst," says Michelson. "Carry with you a list of all drugs you are taking, including the dosage and timing, on a laminated card in your wallet. Include any allergies and the name and phone number of your physician."

Um, aren't we missing out on something EMRs do exceedingly well? Where's health information exchange in this scenario? Personal health records, while not exactly popular right now, could take off when there are enough healthcare providers using EMRs to populate PHRs without much effort on the part of the patient.

A couple of the recommendations get into the quality realm. "Choose a physician aligned with a top hospital. If you suddenly need hospitalization, a top-level teaching hospital will nearly always be able to offer the most advanced treatments," Michelson says. That's the theory, at least. Well-known academic medical centers always offer the best services, right? Well, once hospitals start reporting quality data as part of the "meaningful use" program, we might know for sure. Right now, it's just an assumption.

"Consider the 'What If' scenario," Michelson also says. "If you need to see a specialist, will your physician be able to identify 'best-of-best specialists' without regard to hospital, medical group affiliation or geography?" Probably not. Everything now is based on reputation, not hard outcomes data.

EMRs really are going to change the landscape in the next five years. Do the consultants understand this? Will patients?

For more:
- read this Private Health Management press release

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