Traditionally, people get blood tests when their doctor recommends it, an event that usually occurs at the conclusion of an office visit. But nowadays, patients are deciding to get lab tests on their own.
Their reasons vary. Some want to keep track of cholesterol or hemoglobin A1C levels. Others want to assure their blood will test negative prior to a job search, to test for the presence of a disease like hepatitis C or AIDS, or obtain a chemistry panel that provides a broad picture of their overall health.
The biggest reason for consumer-directed lab testing however, is an economic one. Growing numbers of uninsured people, and those with high-deductible insurance plans find it cheaper to do-it-themselves, since it avoids the cost of an office visit.
The savings can add up. A lipid profile (including cholesterol levels) obtained from an online lab testing company costs about $40. A hemoglobin A1C test usually runs a bit less. A visit to the doctor’s office typically costs $150 or more.
Although hundreds of tests can be obtained in this manner, the most commonly sought-after tests are lipid profiles, C-reactive protein (a new measure of cardiac risk), liver and kidney function tests, vitamin D levels, and hormone levels including estrogens and testosterone. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*
I saw a Scarguard product on sale at a drugstore locally. The claims on the packaging were over the top as usual:
1. “Guards against new scars forming” – Difficult to prove.
2. “Flattens and shrinks old scars” – Not really.
3. “Scarguard is the #1 choice of plastic surgeons” – Really? Nobody asked me.
Scar treatment is pretty simple. Avoid wounding if you can. If you have plastic surgery, seek a skilled surgeon who will spend the time to do the best. After surgery avoid sunlight and smoking, and consider scar massage as directed by your surgeon. This “Scarguard” product is not going to make a bad scar much better unless it is applied early, and even then the results are debatable.
A working definition right now is to decrease hospital stays, efficient medical care for a disease at lower cost, avoidance of medical errors in the hospital, and avoidance of hospital acquired infections. These are important goals. They must be attached to monetary incentives. Many of these problems can be solved now.
The solution demands the development of processes of care. An important question is how much money will process improvement save? I estimate that this process improvement could save an estimated 7 to 10% of the healthcare dollar.
The real question should be focused on how to repair the healthcare system by decreasing costs while improving the health of Americans. Read more »
I [recently] gave a speech at the Midwest Business Group on Health’s (MBGH) 30th Annual Conference. The MBGH is one of the country’s leading organizations on healthcare, and its members include the leading innovators and thought leaders on healthcare in America. It was a privilege to present to them.
I spoke about why healthcare just isn’t a consumer business in spite of all of the effort to turn people into healthcare “consumers.”
At Best Doctors, we have a closeup view of what happens to people when they try to find their way through the healthcare system. It’s not a pleasant picture. Healthcare consumers –- if you can call them that –- are often lost, confused, frustrated, alone. Read more »
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