“Patients who helped with medical choices had higher bills: Let’s Analyze This!
by Dr. Bertalan Meskó on June 1, 2013
As a huge fan and supporter of e-patients who want to use digital technologies and the information they find online in their health management, I don’t like news articles speaking against them without explanations and data.
The healthcare social media community has been discussing a study that concluded patients who wanted to participate in medical decision making had higher bills. It might predict that e-patients will have higher bills as well. Let’s take a look at it:
Analyzing the data, the researchers found that nearly all — 96.3% — wanted to receive information about their illnesses and treatment options, but that only 28.9% said they had a strong preference for making their own decisions about their care.
Those patients had longer hospital stays, by about a quarter of a day on average, than patients who preferred let their doctors take the lead. They also had greater hospital costs ($865 more, on average.) By and large, people who were more likely to participate in medical decisions were better educated, and more likely to have private insurance coverage, than the rest of the patients who were surveyed.
You see? It says patients who had a strong preference for making their own decisions about their care. E-patients are partners with their doctors, not making medical decisions themselves alone. That’s the difference.”
This makes sense and should not be surprising. Discussion of the medical issues is patient engagement and leads to patients and physicians reinforcing decisions. Physicians are much less reticent to investigate further after discussing issues with the patient rather than just ordering tests without the patient’s understanding.