4 important--but confusing--healthcare terms

Some of the prevailing jargon in the healthcare industry suffers from confusion over what it actually means, according to healthcare expert Paul Keckley, Ph.D.

"Powerful phrases are prominent in healthcare discourse," writes Keckley, managing director at the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, in Pulse Weekly. "In some cases, they have multiple meanings; in others, their referent is wildly variant." A non-scientific poll of Navigant's team turned up several "power" phrases, ranked on a confusion scale of one to three, three being the most confusing. Here are four of the 10 most confusing terms:

Primary care, with a rating of 3: The source of the confusion, according to Keckley, is whether primary care refers to the work of clinicians or preventive/chronic care coordination activities conducted by multi-disciplinary teams.

Healthcare consumerism, with a rating of 3: The ambiguity for this phrase, Keckley writes, is whether the industry considers people active partners, purchasers and decision-makers or the more passive designator of patients?

Curve 2 health, with a rating of 3: Those who work in healthcare are often confused as to whether the industry's "second curve" refers to an incentive shift, from volume to value, or a shift in what is expected of high-value delivery.

Population health management, with a rating of 2: The confusion in this case, he says, concerns whether the term refers to processes applicable to any population, or specifically chronic and at-risk patient populations.

Confusion is, in many cases, a natural part of the process, according to Keckley, because the new ideas' maturation process means a period of ambiguity. "The imperative, therefore, is that every organization choose its power phrases judiciously, explain them specifically and educate its partners purposely," he writes. "And where confusion is intentional, the industry should force clarity."

To learn more:
- here's the article
- read the poll