By Dr. Andrew Albert, Chief Medical Officer and Cofounder of Fibroblast
A recent article in the Hyde Park Herald caught my eye.
It discussed how Dr. David Meltzer, a University of Chicago hospitalist and economist, is trying to reduce the number of hospital visits by people who aren’t getting the right kind of care from their primary care physicians. But even better, he and his colleagues are going to work together to “reduce the number of hospital and emergency room visits, decrease the number of unnecessary tests, improve patient health and satisfaction, and reduce the cost on the health care system.”
How will he do this? By coordinating these patients’ treatment across a network of doctors, instead of leaving things to chance.
Meltzer appreciates, like I do, the value of keeping things in the family. That is, of going beyond a suggestion of further treatment to making a referral that includes the scheduling of appointments with the colleagues and partners we trust. Doctors’ working together like this improves the care of all patients, not just those most in need of treatment, which is the subgroup that Meltzer’s partners will be focusing on.
When patients’ care is unguided, and strong referrals are not part of the treatment process, a patient can end up in the hospital unnecessarily or in the care of another physician who is unfamiliar with the situation. There can be a breakdown in communication, a chance of a misdiagnosis, and that can lead to a mistrust in the doctors they see. Not to mention, resistance to care over the long term is increased.
Just as important: Uncoordinated medical care increases costs for the hospital and other medical facilities (not to mention the patients themselves), and takes money away from the physicians who can do the best, most relevant service for their patients.
Meltzer has the right idea, and it’s up to doctors like him not just to work together, but to utilize technologies (like Fibroblast) that make it easier for patients to get the care they need and for doctors to share information and communicate with each other better.
“The key here is there is value in a strong doctor-patient relationship,” Meltzer told the Herald. “We believe where there is a strong and stable relationship, there is more trust.” With more trust, there is a greater chance that patients will receive the care they need.