Letters to the Editor

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MEDICINE: Physician, patient share role in controlling costs

Letter by Nick Rajacich, M.D., Tacoma on March 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm with No Comments »
March 25, 2013 1:47 pm

Re: “When high-tech medicine costs more, it should deliver” (editorial, 3-22).

While your editorial talks specifically about gynecological robotics, the larger point of contributing factors to skyrocketing health care costs is a good one. But it’s important to take into consideration the cost of care for the whole patient – not just what is billed for the procedure.

Some of these more expensive technologies may cost more per procedure, but if the patient can resume work sooner and spend fewer days in the hospital, there are cost savings that need to be included in the overall cost assessment.

Physicians are becoming increasingly aware of our role as stewards of our limited health care dollars. More care does not necessarily mean better care. Having more tests, using the newest medications or having the newest procedure does not guarantee better results. Overuse and waste in the system is undeniable.

The bottom line is that the best care decisions are made through meaningful conversations between patients and physicians. The Washington State Medical Association recognizes that this must be a two-way conversation, and we are promoting Choosing Wisely, a national initiative of the ABIM Foundation encouraging patients and physicians to question the necessity of specific tests, procedures and therapies.

These are conversations patients and physicians must have if we want to continue to deliver and receive the highest quality and safest care.

(Rajacich is president of the Washington State Medical Association.)

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