Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Financial Concerns Are Not The Primary Barrier To Health Care In America

It’s not just about money – Americans Face Barriers to Health Care Beyond Cost.  A study released recently in Health Services Research found that while financial concerns prevent 18% of Americans from getting needed health care, more Americans – 21% – delay health care for nonfinancial reasons.  These barriers include getting to the doctor, getting a timely appointment and taking time out of other responsibilities.  Lead author Jeffrey Kullgren, M.D. adds what he believes is the crux of the issue: “We need to think about how to organize the existing resources we have in ways that are going to improve access to care.”

In Would You Lie to Your Own Doctor?, Connie Midey of The Arizona Republic reports on a common practice that can “compromise [doctors'] ability to diagnose and treat patients effectively.”  The reason? Many patients are less than truthful with doctors about their health habits.  “Failing to volunteer information can be as dangerous as lying,” Midey writes.  “Such failure to be frank risks minor to serious consequences, such as exposing others to a virus, suffering a drug interaction, developing a preventable chronic condition and delaying treatment until the late stages of a disease.”

Mary Whaley, on Manage My Practice, points out that patients have questions of their own.  Her post, Six Reasons Why Your Doctor’s Office Doesn’t Call You Back and a Few Solutions, lists some likely causes for the increasing number of phone calls at physician practices.  Her suggestions for improvement range from simplifying prescription processes to improving physician-patient communication.

Offering simple guidelines – or explaining the basic ground rules of engagement as Jessie Gruman calls them – can help patients and clinicians overcome some of these barriers.  A straight-forward, fill-in-the-blank guide could be used by any clinic or health care practice to help patients with common questions and problems like those mentioned in the above posts.  For example:

  • What’s the best way to make an appointment?
  • Where are you located and how do I get there?
  • What’s the payment process and who do I contact about billing questions?
  • Who should I call after-hours or in case of an emergency?  What are your hours?

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »