Healthcare Habits Die Hard

As the U.S. seeks to drive down medical spending, one goal is to eliminate tests and treatments that are ineffective while encouraging price competition among things that work. Passing the buck on to the consumer isn't enough; on The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski reports that giving patients an incentive to save money on health care causes them to see the doctor less, not "shop smarter." Meanwhile, Orac provides an update on "Choosing Wisely," a program meant to weed out useless procedures by appealing to the prudence of medical specialists instead of patients. In the three years that it has been in effect, the initiative has had little measurable impact. As Orac writes, "As much as physicians want to do the right thing for their patients, changing behavior in large numbers of people is among the most difficult human endeavors of all."

More like this

On The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski reports on a "public health nightmare" in Brazil that threatens to become more common around the world. The culprit is a virus called Zika, known to cause mild infections since 1947 but now "linked to nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly – infants born with…
On The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski surveys a new report on chronic illness released by the Institute of Medicine. Borkowski writes, "diabetes and heart disease are what leap to my mind—in part because they're so tied to the lifestyle factors of smoking, inadequate exercise, and poor nutrition, and…
A groundbreaking study published in PLOS ONE offers hope that scientists can reverse the development of antibiotic resistance among bacteria with the help of "a mathematical model that pinpoints optimal antibiotic cycling patterns." On The Pump Handle, Kim Krisberg writes, "the research comes at a…
On The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski examines the ethical dilemma of testing the anthrax vaccine in children. If a widespread attack were to occur, we would want to know the safety and efficacy of the vaccine beforehand. But is an attack likely enough to warrant testing the vaccine on children? On…