Monday, February 01, 2010

Medicare: patients see far to many specialists, who don't share information at all

Robert Samuelson offered some interesting tidbits on Medicare in his column “Health Reform: what to do before spending more” today, Feb. 1, on p A17 of The Washington Post, link here.

He points out that the typical Medicare recipient sees “six or seven doctors a year”. Specialists are very jealous of their turf, and don’t share information very well. Patients are expected to bring lists of medications and other doctors, which may be inaccurate. Tests are segmented. To get a stress test (maybe with some embarrassing shaving) or an echocardiogram, you get sent to a cardiologist (with some specific instructions). But the same cardiologist will not draw blood.

He also points out that networks with electronic recordskeeping would need to enroll at least 100000 patients to become cost-effective.

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