Thomas Goetz: It's time to redesign medical data
The following is a TED talk that I consider worth listening through.
The talk starts with some discussion of patient behavior and compliance. Particularly of interest to me is the second half of the talk where Mr. Goetz goes through the unfuctional manner in how medical information, such as lab results, is currently communicated to patients. Often, it is just a number on a page, totally devoid of context and recommended course of action. I know when I get results, I have to immediately go to the web or some information source for context. I don't even know off the top of my head what my blood pressure 'should be', so when it is taken I often have a blank look on my face (like I expect most of us do).
There are a few reasons for this. First is that it isn't really the job of the 'lab' to provide advice and context on a test result. It is that of a doctor / care provider. But .. doctors get compensated based on patient interactions (number of them), and not on actual care provided (patient understanding, compliance, etc.), so they are incentivized to encourage follow-up interactions, and disincentived to discourage them. That may well be changing. Also there are liability issues to consider whenever context and recommendations are provided. So, until we have some tort reform, you are unlikely to see the kinds of lab reports shown in the later part of the talk. I'd add that I believe there is pushback from the medical community as they try to maintain their historical standing as a 'source of information' [Toffler terms them 'sources of truth'] which is nevertheless eroding in this informational age. That is a shame, as they would clearly serve we pateints far better and encourage more meaningful discussion with our doctors if we all started from some base of understanding on our current health status.
Please do give a listen. This is what we should be striving for as health care 'reforms'.
[couldn't embed off the TED site, so had to wait for youtube]
The talk end with some very practical advice. Have these 4 questions on a card for ready access every time you see your doctor and are given some lab result.
1) Can I have my result
2) What does this mean
3) What are my options
4) What next
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