Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Is your doc's office computerized?

…Jan Greene, writing in the LA Times (July 9, 2007), says a good way to find an competent doc is to see how his or her office is run.

…A major clue is do they fiddle with paper charts or are they computerized?

…So much of medical care, said one expert, is not even 20th century, much less 21st century.

…Only about 20% of physicans’s offices are computerized.

…HA’s mother’s doc finally hauled off the anteroom of metal bookcases full of files.

…Has your doctor?

…Some consider computerization a benchmark of quality.

..Some studies show there are fewer medical mistakes and more coordinated, safer care if an electronic record is used.

…Another way to choose a doc is how accessible the person is to email or emergency contact. One doc has a $30 online housecall—where he and the patient can talk back and forth on the computer in a secure environment.

…Studies also show that if the patient works with the doctor, outcomes are better. The patient has opted into the treatment. They call this finding a “medical home.” The service includes staff followup to get records from specialists and coaching for diabetes control and other lifestyle issues.

…Patients also don’t like to wait—they like to feel their time is worth something.

…HA and her family check the doctor’s online record and history (only goes back five years on lawsuits, though). She asks does the doctor have same-day appts for emergencies (or is it off to the ER or Urgent Care)? Do they always call with test results (one study showed almost half don’t always report positive results).

…Patients also reported wanting to know how often a physician had done a certain procedure.

…Is the doctor board-certified?

…HA recommends the movie “Sicko” as a debate starter. To her the most moving part was when the Cuban doctor told a woman with cancer, “Don’t cry, it will all be OK.”

…HA has never had a doctor tell her that. Think positively, yes. Try not to worry, yes. Etc. But not that.

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