Better Ways for Physicians and Patients to Communicate
Andrew Lazris, MD, a geriatrician from Columbia, MD, whose book Curing Cancer was reviewed here last March, recently penned an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun. Dr. Lazris, with co-author Erik Rifkin,says there’s got to be a better way to communicate the complex numbers and medical terms used in medicine so that physicians and patients can make better intervention decisions.
He particularly blames the mainstream media for not being more helpful.
“Accurate medical information needs to be presented in the media using terms, and in a setting, that is familiar to patients — the presentation needs to "feel" right. This format should show patients, as simply and effortlessly as possible, what a test, procedure or drug actually means in terms of their own health objectives and their quality of life. What is needed is a simple, straightforward graphic that presents, on one page, a clear and objective picture of actual health benefits and risks associated with various medicines, tests and procedures.
“In addition to new studies, this graphic can be applied to common health endpoints including, but not limited to: the use of blood thinners in atrial fibrillation; the use of statins in people with high cholesterol; the treatment of diabetes; the use of screening tests such as mammograms, colonoscopies, stress tests, carotid ultrasounds, bone density testing and treatment of dementia; and many other issues that typically evade discussion due to a paucity of accurate information and limitations in time.”
Dr. Lazris’ book makes similar pleas to untangle a healthcare system he believes is dangerously over-complex and overly regulated. For instance, he believes the ACA makes being a doctor less attractive while increasing the amount it costs to be treated as a patient. The result, he says, is a mess that needs cleaning up.
"The ACA has codified a system where primary care doctors are the workhorses with no power to impact change. They are judged by productivity and patient satisfaction scores, which have little relevance to quality care," he writes.
It’s a book that worth reading. You can order a copy here.
- Lee Landenberger, AHC Media Editorial & Continuing Education Director