An op-ed in today’s New York Times by Pamela Hartzband and Jerome Groopman (two physicians at Harvard Medical School) is entitled “How medical care is being corrupted.”
The authors basically suggest the following:
- That financial drivers are starting to undermine both quality of care and the bond of trust between doctors and patients (and that most consumers are utterly unaware of these financial drivers)
- That your doctor’s decisions about your care are now heavily influenced by incentives and disincentives put in place by insurance companies, hospital networks, and “regulatory groups”
- That your doctor may feel pressured to withhold treatment that s/he feels you need or to recommend treatment which, in your specific case, may appear to come with more potential for risk than benefit
- That Congress should legislate the development of a public website “to reveal the hidden coercive forces that may specify treatments and limit choices through pressures on the doctor” (i.e., a web site analogous to the website mandated by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act)
Whether one’s first reaction is to completely reject or to completely accept the allegations and recommendations being made by Hartzband and Groopman, what is clearly the case is that we have reached a sad state of affairs with regard to the degree of trust that at least some physicians (and some patients too) feel able to place in the way our healthcare system actually operates — with or without the additional impact of the Affordable Care Act.