Does High-Quality Healthcare Mean More Expensive Healthcare?
posted by The Live Better Team | February 28, 2020
In many industries, a hefty price tag indicates a top-notch product—think cars, electronics or clothing. But the same is not necessarily true for healthcare. Just because your care is expensive does not always mean that it is of good quality.
For example, an MRI at a hospital is about 70% more expensive (on average) than an MRI at an outpatient imaging center. Does that mean that the MRI you get at a hospital is better? Quite frankly, the answer is no. So, how can you tell whether you’re getting high-quality care? Hint: it’s not the price tag.
Your doctor encourages you to be proactive in your care
A doctor who doesn’t ask you about your concerns and preferences is not providing high-quality care. Shared decision-making is critical to make sure that you get the right care at the right place and at the right time. Ask your doctor how you can be more engaged in your healthcare, and check out this post about how to be a smarter healthcare consumer.
Your primary care provider is your advocate
If you don’t have a primary care provider, get one. Navigating the healthcare system without a primary care provider is like buying a house without a realtor. Sure, it can be done, but a realtor can help make the process easier and fight for your best interests. Doctors who advocate for you and are respectful of your needs and preferences are the cornerstone of high-quality care. They can help you get appropriate care, refer you to specialists when necessary, and act as your healthcare quarterback. If you have a primary care provider that isn’t your advocate, it may be time to find another doctor.
Your doctor has your healthcare costs in mind
Does your doctor talk to you about the cost of your care? Does she encourage you to get lab work or imaging at an outpatient center instead of the hospital? Medical care that produces the same results at a lower price is high value. If your doctor doesn’t talk to you about costs, don’t hesitate to ask questions. If surgery is in your future, for example, ask if the same procedure can be done at a surgical center rather than in a hospital setting.
Your doctor practices evidence-based medicine
One component of high-quality care is assuring that you don’t get too much or too little care, and that you get care when you need it. High-quality doctors use evidence-based medicine to determine what care works best for you and when you should receive it. You can be involved in this process, too, by asking questions about whether treatment is appropriate. Visit the Choosing Wisely website for a list of conditions, treatment options and evidence-based recommendations for more information. You can also build a list of questions to ask here.
You are healthier
Ultimately, high-quality healthcare helps you be your healthiest self. Of course, everyone gets sick, and sometimes getting sick is out of our control. However, doctors who provide high-quality care can help you manage your conditions in a way that respects your needs and desires. But don’t forget, it’s not just up to your doctor to help you be healthier. You also play an important role, and it’s crucial that you do your part to stay healthy.
If you have concerns about the quality of your healthcare, discuss them with your doctor.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.