Docs: Patients must take responsibility for health outcomes

Unhappy female patient and doctor
Photo credit: Getty/AlexRaths

Many physicians are unhappy that they will be subject to penalties under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act for patient outcomes beyond their control.

Indeed, doctors who responded to a recent Medscape article about best practices to deal with patients who don’t comply with medical advice argued that it’s not their fault when patients fail to heed their recommendations.

"How is it my fault if my patient who has heart failure decides not to take his meds and eats pizza and hamburgers every day, or if my patient with five stents doesn't want to take statins and Plavix and continues to smoke?" A cardiologist asked the publication. "Are they now expecting me to check in with him every day? They certainly are not paying me to do so. In fact, they are paying me less and less."

And a preventive medicine specialist said that the discussion is too focused on medication-based treatment and outcomes, rather than the true causes of disease that determine outcomes, such as diet, activity and sleep.

The problem with patient non-compliance has long frustrated physicians. But doctors who are empathetic and communicate well with patients do have higher rates of patient satisfaction, FiercePracticeManagement previously reported. One suggestion to improve compliance is to make sure you don’t overwhelm patients with too much information. Instead, give them three options from which they can choose.

Medscape also suggests that doctors can help promote compliance by providing patients with reminders, such as emails and texts, and limiting the number of times a patient has to take a drug.