What If Obamacare Really Did Something About
Patient Education & Empowerment?
The patient-oriented elements of Obamacare have largely to do with free screenings that are often double-edged swords – likely to promote as much unnecessary treatment as true life-saving interventions.
What Obamacare doesn’t sufficiently address – and what true healthcare reform requires – is the need for better patient education so patients can make these determinations themselves. One of the core sources of our medical dysfunction is the knowledge and power imbalance between doctors and patients – a lack of medical literacy by medical consumers.
This gap can never be fully closed, of course, but better informed patients are more likely to make better quality, less fear-driven decisions about their medical treatments (see “America’s Health Scare System“).
In terms of chronic diseases that account for 75% of our healthcare spending, patient involvement in their treatment and lifestyle choices is even more important. Those with chronic diseases are at higher than average risk for both dangerous medical interventions and for the added expense of chronic disease care over a lifetime.
Empowered Patients Could Save
Our Broken Healthcare System
Here are a few measures missing from Obamacare that could transform patients’ roles in their medical care to full partners in their medical decision-making:
Reform Informed Consent – Medical malpractice reform would afford an opportunity to reform the “Informed Consent” process to be more a patient education platform and less a legalistic defense mechanism for doctors and hospitals (see Our Healthcare Sucks for examples of how this process is abused today). Reduced malpractice exposure would permit this transformation to occur.