The most recent fiasco concerns HealthCare.gov, a place where those without employer-provided insurance can shop for health plans. Due to innumerable glitches, the Obama administration has granted a six week extension for individuals to enroll before being charged with tax penalties for not having insurance.
Kevin Pho, an internal medicine physician and blogger, recently gave the analogy that HealthCare.gov is like an American patient.
There are many truths and similarities between the two subjects. I appreciate this analogy because it breaks down the realness of what is going on to cause the difficulties users are experiencing both in doctor’s offices and online, as they attempt to shop for healthcare insurance.
First, on average, Medicare patients see seven different doctors in any given year. This often includes two primary care physicians and five specialists working in four different practices.
With regards to Healthcare.gov, there are many different contractors working independently on the website, rather than one single entity building the entire infrastructure.
Collaboration is key to rebuilding healthcare and gaining control over how individuals can utilize technology to find the best health plans for their families. It is extremely hard to work separately, but towards a common goal without collaboration each step of the way.
Second, the communication of EMRs across several care venues is foggy. They do not work together and often times, patients may have records on several different EMRs.
HealthCare.gov has trouble accessing information from separate non-compatible systems like the IRS and health insurers.
Working together enables information to be shared more easily. EMRs are essential to improving healthcare for both data organization and communication. Furthermore, the ability to access information across different systems greatly enhances the services provided to patients.
Third, the primary care shortage we face as a country contributes to patients not having the support that they need to coordinate their care.
The same holds true for HealthCare.gov; it lacks a supportive authority figure taking ownership of its problems and finding solutions in a relatively quick time frame.
Primary care physicians are to be a patient’s advocate as health-related decisions are being discussed. If there is a problem, they search high and low to find answers all for the sake of keeping their patient healthy. HealthCare.gov does not have a clear leader as problems arise, which explains why we continue to see issues daily in the news.
As Dr. Pho mentions in his blog, too many mismanaged parts will inevitably break down in the long run. That is what we are experiencing today in healthcare and online at HealthCare.gov.
Dr. Peter Anderson has practiced Family Medicine for more than thirty years. He developed the Family Team Care® model and has been a long-time champion of primary care medicine. Having retired from active practice, he now provides on-site training and launch assistance on his “inside-the-exam-room” model for primary care physician offices across the country in order to help them successfully prepare for health care reform and the medical home. His office and home are in Yorktown, Virginia.