More Time for Improved Care

America's approach to moderating healthcare costs relies on limiting the time spent in medical encounters. The opposite approach could work better. If we enabled physicians, nurses and other providers to spend more time with patients, follow up more diligently and teach them to take an active role in managing their chronic medical conditions, we'd see results.

A new AARP Magazine survey confirms that patients who are more involved in their healthcare have fewer complications and a better experience.

Readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge
Less-involved patients: 28.0%; More-involved patients: 12.8%

Experienced a medical error
Less-involved patients: 35.8%; More-involved patients: 19.2%

Suffer a health consequence because of poor communication among providers
Less-involved patients: 48.6%; More-involved patients: 13.2%

Lose confidence in the healthcare system
Less-involved patients: 59.8%; More-involved patients: 15.1%

The cumulative effect of improved interaction within individual medical relationships can improve care and reduce costs. Until we can make large-scale advancements in quality and efficiency, let's think small. Empowering individual physicians, nurses and patients is a key improving care. It's about time.
—Tom DeSanto
Source: AARP Magazine, July & August 2009. Image:

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