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HomeMedical Information Privacy PolicyInnovative MedicineRaising Satisfaction While Lowering Cost

Raising Satisfaction While Lowering Cost

Expenses increase and providers scramble to adjust; what has changed and what does it mean for patients?

Maintaining a high quality of care, while controlling health expenditure is one of the most prominent of contemporary healthcare issues. Countries all over the world have each in their own way exerted efforts into finding a sustainable solution to this problem. Contemplating possible answers and designing cost management schemes require governmental officials, insurance companies and healthcare providers to take a step back and appreciate the complexities inherent in their healthcare system from a macro perspective.
 
While this process is of paramount importance, it is crucial that healthcare providers; both medical practitioners and insurers, understand the interplay between these macro changes and individual patient care. The two topics may seem to be miles apart; however a closer observation will reveal how they are interdependent.
 
Length of hospitalization is a topic that has been subject to such attempts, which serves as an accurate demonstration of this interplay. Shortening inpatient stay for both surgical and medical admission patients has long been the subject of discourse in the healthcare community. Fluctuation in length of inpatient stay influences both the patient and the provider in a number of ways.
 
From the patient’s perspective; an extended stay enables longer observation periods, immediate detection of complications and reduction of readmissions. On the other hand, extended admission exposes the patient to significant risks of infections, thrombosis, pressure ulcers and in some cases cultivates dependency which unnecessarily elongates the recovery period.
 
Striking a balance between these considerations is no simple matter, especially once the medical provider’s angle is added to the fray. For hospitals, longer stay means crowded wards, overworked staff and a higher ratio of patient’s to medical practitioners. Each of these factors impacts the level of personalized care, as well as patient supervision and standards of accommodations.   
 
Recognizing this complexity the medical world has developed and adapted to address this central issue. One of the most pronounced changes has been the transition of treatment from an inpatient to an ambulatory setting. For surgical patients, this is done by using minimally invasive techniques in the form of arthroscopies in orthopedics, percutaneous coronary interventions in cardiology and laparoscopic procedures in general surgery. Similar efforts are seen for medical care such as ambulatory treatment of congestive heart failure and chronic renal failure embodying further attempts at shortening stay and shifting the burden of care to outpatient settings.
 
So what does all this mean for the average patient? Receiving treatment as an outpatient is great for many; instead of being confined to a hospital bed with the risk it entails, they are able to proceed with their daily lives without compromising on the level of care. The aforementioned surgical techniques are also less invasive, less traumatic and entail shorter recovery times than open procedures.
 
On the other hand, access to medical expertise is limited and supervision may be fragmented, which shifts some responsibility to the patient. Case management and remote medical services have identified this need and have filled the gap by tailoring services to offset this risk. This includes daily follow up calls to patients by trained nurses, doctors liaising with primary care physicians to ensure a smooth crossover of care and rapid access to specialist opinions in case of need.
 
Healthcare is a mosaic made up of patient needs, medical providers, technological advances, cultural preferences and economic realities. Each piece contains a world of dilemmas and developments. Much like any mosaic, stepping back and appreciating the broader interplay of its components, enables us to clearly see the underlying image.       
 

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