December 6, 2021

OFFICIAL, POSITION STATEMENT: Doctors Can Help, Politically, Locally — Here’s Three Areas You Can Help.

Official Position Statement, Concierge Medicine Today; June 2019

“Doctors play a vital role in our lives. When we are sick or injured, it’s difficult for anyone to research on a dime which options are best for treatment around us. Whether we’re at home, on vacation or out of state/country, Patients are forced to make immediate, long-lasting, expensive and sometimes life-threatening decisions with little to know education, planning or preparation whatsoever when a medical crisis arises. Concierge Doctors, known for having the more time with their Patients and finding room in the day to have more intentional conversations which sometime are non-treatment related healthcare topics, are finding new tools to help patients and themselves. They’re approaching challenging topics with Patients that center around what a patient can/should do in the event of an emergency, explaining the difference between a Primary Care visit, an Urgent Care and the ER and when specifically to involve the primary care of family medicine doctor in the process. Additionally, Concierge Doctors are encouraging Patients to learn where these facilities are located in the event of an emergency and have a Family Emergency Medical Action Plan in place complete with knowing who and where is covered by their insurance and what may or may not be in and out of network with their plan. Concierge Doctors should explain what they [e.g. the Concierge Doctor] can do or treat (and what they don’t). Doctors should encourage Patients to review their insurance coverage for emergency room, UCC visits and specialists before the need arises. Doctors should recommend that Patients also understand their coverage while traveling out of state and specifically when and how the Concierge Doctor can help quarterback care and access to a Specialist. It’s difficult to educate every patient on every possible scenario, but just knowing they have someone that can help them navigate quickly into a world they don’t understand is peace of mind at a time when worry sets in. While none of us can prevent injury or illness, we encourage all Doctors to take preventive educational steps with Patients directly and encourage them to learn what and where certain health care facilities may be best suited for the minor conditions of their Patients – and when and where to seek emergency room treatment.”

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Editor: “So, I got ‘Evidence’ AND a Second Opinion Before My Surgery. And, my Doctor Was Part of the Decision-Making Process The Entire Time!” — WATCH

Editor’s Note, Concierge Medicine Today –May/June 2019 

By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief

“The data, however, should be owned by the patient. Their Physician can help direct them on how to apply the information contained in WGS to maximize its benefits,” states Michael Tetreault, Editor of Concierge Medicine Today. “Patients need the ability to securely store, use, and understand genetic data.” Concierge Medicine Today advises this should be accomplished through physician involvement and technology that integrates genetic data into software applications [apps]. Software apps are now available that analyze genetic data and transform the data into actionable information that can have a real impact on health.
In 2016, Concierge Medicine Today published the first-ever position statement regarding the role of the Use of Quality Scores for Hospitals and Surgeons based on Medical Performance and Evidence-Based Medical Outcomes and Use and Application of Pharmacogenomics Inside Concierge Medicine. Since that time, tremendous discussions and an increase in education and utilization has occurred in this niche healthcare space, Concierge Medicine.

We’ve heard that healthcare is in the midst of unprecedented change.

While that is true, healthcare is also slow to adopt change. Therefore, we let this platitude wash over us like water off a ducks back.

At Concierge Medicine Today, we have numerous discussions with Physicians, patients, executives and those in policy that the topic of “Surprise Medical Bills” impacts everyone around us.

Understanding The Numbers

In fact, Charis Brown recently wrote an article just last fall (Oct. 2018) entitled 12 ways to reduce your medical costs and said ‘You probably don’t need anyone telling you that medical costs are eating up a greater percentage of many people’s budgets. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, people spent nearly $10,000 ($9,982) on medical expenses last year. That’s more than double what people spent in 2000! (In 2000, people spent $4,884 on average.)’

Furthermore, Doctors should understand that medical debt is damaging the credit of around 43 million people, according to TIME and their latest figures available.

When you are faced with medical bills which are filed incorrectly, billed under the wrong NPI or address and hospitals, Doctors offices and others start sending you bills, think about what you would do?

I recently had hand surgery. When the bills started rolling in, things were filed incorrectly and then the phone calls and bills started coming at a furious pace. Much of the bills and money they said I owed was money that I actually don’t legitimately owe. It’s frustrating, confusion, anxiety-ridden and I literally lost 15lbs. (No joke!)

In fact, roughly 80% of patient medical bills contain errors, according to a report from Money magazine and other industry estimates.

Did You Know?

I too hear these figures in the millions or trillions and have gotten used to letting these numbers become noise.

At Concierge Medicine Today, we hear from Physicians young and seasoned from across the medical specialties in the U.S. They’re always curious about how and where they should be making an impact in their local politics. They want to get involved and help their patients when and if they can.

One year ago we asked Physicians in a nationwide poll, “In 2018, how successful were societies and medical associations at meeting your practice needs? Please check all that apply.”

Over 50% said “While I pay my member dues, I do not feel like I have an actual voice. Membership is just not very helpful. I pay my dues/membership fees but regular assistance from groups both large and small is yet to impact my practice.”

That should be a clarion call for medical societies and medical associations to revisit their mission and vision. But as we know, healthcare is slow to change. So, here we are, faced with asking ourselves the question, “What can I do as a lone Physician that can help people?”

Learn More About These Three Topics and Find Your Role In The Discussion

  1. Learn About What Your State Is Doing About “Surprise Medical Bills” and How You Can Be A Part of the Discussion.The “Surprise Medical Bill” topic is an important one and hits each of us right where it hurts. It impacts families, Medicare aged individuals and even Doctors themselves when they need certain surgeries or treatments. A lot of medical associations and medical societies do little to lead the way locally related this topic.Today as you may already be aware, there are simply not enough Physician voices inserting themselves into this discussion. If you learned more about this topic and what’s being done in your state, how could you lean-in and help advocate for your Patient(s) and lower their bills.I know this topic has a wide berth. It’s impact into each of our local communities across the United States is far and wide. It can be devastating to families. This topic of “Surprise Medical Bills” is a critically important issue which Doctors can and should be involved in the discussion.Your state may have some current legislation on record. Other states may have pending legislation. Some, none at all … or it has stalled.Kaiser Health News just this past quarter (March 2019) stated As of December, 25 states had laws providing protection against balance bills, according to the Commonwealth Fund. Those laws take consumers out of the middle in billing disputes and force providers and insurers to negotiate directly for payment … When an insurer and a provider disagree about how much a service is worth, who decides the legitimate charge?

     

  2. Learn About Medical Billing Advocates and Explain Their Role To Patients, When Necessary.Another discussion Doctors should be having with their patients is explaining what and who medical billing advocates are.For example, Hospital bills are almost never accurate. According to consumer advisor and author, Clark Howard, he says “In some cases, it might make sense to hire a medical billing advocate that can help you lower your bills if you think you are being overcharged. You can also hire claims assistance professionals or medical billing advocates who will look over your bills and vet them for errors. They’re available in more than half of all states in the country. Visit Claims.org or BillAdvocates.com to locate one near you and expect to pay between $30 and $50 per hour for their services. Anyone who is uninsured and paying retail for expensive medical services should go this route. These advocates can significantly reduce what you owe by identifying errors, fraudulent charges and other ways the hospital may have taken advantage of you financially.”
  3. Explain to Patients The Difference Between Your, Urgent Care and the ER?Primary Care Practices, Family Medical Offices, Urgent Care Centers and Emergency Rooms are among the most commonly used places for treating injuries and illnesses. The trouble is, when we’re faced with needing immediate treatment, have a concern, our child is crying and and we’re in a hurry to make a decision, it’s a difficult time to know the difference between the options. While they do share some similarities, these places are not the same.Take a moment to explain to your Patients what the differences are, when they call you or schedule an appoint and when they should go to an Urgent Care Center (UCC) or Emergency Room (ER). Explain clearly the differences between the ER and UCC. Don’t presume they understand the last two. Help educate them about the reasons why these two types of facilities exist.While we understand clearly at Concierge Medicine Today that the Physician is the quarterback for most things that happen to us, we also know from experience and history that there are some moment that we need immediate help. I liken this conversation between you and your patient to be one that I recently had with my son. “No one wants to learn how to change a tire until they need to change a tire.”

So, have an open conversation about these topics. Help your next Patient by opening up new lines of communication. You’ll both be grateful you did.