Monday, August 22, 2011
The Importance of Individualized Health Care by Andrew Wolfe, LMP
Health care these days is a system of managed care. Due to the volume of patients needs, health care is inundated with symptoms and complaints that exceed the limited time capacity of health care professionals. It has been my experience, that mainstream health care is overseen not by the patients' medical providers but by a larger "all-seeing eye” focused on the bottom line. It is felt within every procedure, therapy and treatment protocol; --your insurance company. Without having the direct contact or history of the patient these decisions are made. They dictate what seems to me, that which is in the best interest of corporate insurance companies and not in the best interests of the patient. Who knows better than the person who comes into direct contact with the patient, the healthcare provider? With the many and often multiple needs of the patent and a condensed time in which to manage their care, it is a wonder more mistakes aren't being made. To address a large and ever growing number of people in need we, in the health care field, are overworked and underpaid. It is easy to overlook and by-pass an important piece in the equation in the health care puzzle; individualized quality care.
How did profits become more important than people? In an ever changing world of high finance, opportunity and the push to strive for more. we have created a giant monster. This monster is controlling us and largely dictating how we practice (which is the job of licensing boards.) Practitioners have the wisdom of understanding to know best how to manage what was once compassion in action. Our choice to serve and help others has been tainted by policies and procedures, much of which is not within our own understanding of best practice. The larger umbrella called managed care effects us all; patients and providers alike. In my experience working with insurance companies as a contracted provider, I, like many, in the process of trying to help others, am limited by narrowly defined codes and reimbursements, limiting effectiveness in treating patients with the services they require. This need for treatment sometimes necessitates patients having to go outside of the managed system where they often find a larger dollar amount dangling over their heads. It seems freedom of choice, by most standards has a price tag. Those that can afford choice can exercise this freedom while others can't due to the oppressive paralysis of inability to choose based on economics.
The other side to managed care is inconsistency. I have heard this from patients time and time again. Individualized attention seems to be lost. It's been my experience that some patients are bounced around by other practitioners having conflicting advice, different unresolved treatments and they feel the frustration of having to discuss yet again their health history, sometime within the same medical office or organization. Patients want to be heard, treated respectfully and get solid answers. I believe part of the answer lies in patient choice. This ability to choose gets lost within the shuffle and patients feel helpless to change the power of thinking to choose. A proactive patient is an empowered patient. While this may be a threat to some, it is best for the patient to think outside of the box; to be able to consider all options.
The need for private practices is necessary to fill in the gaps of this shuffle. Unfortunately it is becoming harder to find such practices and solo practitioners. Those of us not consumed by a corporate entity have been left to defend our position, holding ground that seems to be shaky at best. Yet perseverance is the human quality of the soul. We can not depart from our humanness.
Copyright 4/21 2011
Andrew Wolfe, LMP
Business owner in private practice
Harmony Licensed Massage Therapy, serving individual health care needs in North
Snohomish County since 1987
“Compassionate care, tough on pain.”