Archive for August, 2009

High healthcare costs? Get rid of simple inefficiencies—and greed

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

We wonder what is wrong with our healthcare system. We wonder why costs are so astronomical. It’s not difficult to understand. Just look at the inefficiencies—and the greed. They are everywhere.

The inefficiencies start with recordkeeping. Every time my husband has taken his 97-year-old mother to the hospital it is the same story: He has to provide the same information to the intake worker. An admission that should take no more than a few minutes and the click of a mouse, ends up taking at least 30 minutes, with the intake worker inputting the information anew. Doesn’t the hospital know that every time data is input, the opportunity to introduce errors (or omissions) increases? Duh.

Other inefficiencies also are due to recordkeeping and the inability of agencies to share information (with permission, of course). When my mother-in-law was discharged from rehab/nursing home last week, a home-healthcare nurse was supposed to visit. Once they finally came out, the nurse took down all of the information that was available from the nursing home (and the hospital). Could she have accessed records and merely updated information?

We had to fire that agency because they were unreliable. We hired another, which had come out to our home several times in the past—so it had the healthcare records. What was the first thing the nurse did? You guessed it: She took down, by hand, all of the information. Why didn’t she have the records with her? And why couldn’t there have been a sharing between agencies?

It’s actually worse than I describe: This nurse had a computer. I did not see what she was looking at. It could have been my mother-in-law’s records, or it could have been some government or agency forms. Whatever it was, she copied what she was reviewing on screen to a handwritten form!

And of course, there is greed. In my previous post, “Just because you can…” I commented on the ethics of the doctor who performed multiple surgeries on my mother-in-law and left her much worse off than she was before she went to him initially. I am convinced it was greed, allowed by the system, that encouraged him to do those things. And I find it extremely interesting that Medicare recipients get just enough rehab to take them through the end of Medicare coverage—whether they need it or not!

We need a complete overhaul of our medical system. I am disappointed that Mr. Obama has caved in to the pharmaceutical, medical, and insurance industries and abdicated the only thing that makes sense: a single-payer system. Sure, that would require a completely new paradigm of how we “do” healthcare. But, that is what we need. The system as it is “working” today costs us too much in too many ways.

It is time to change.