The Primary Problems with Healthcare Today: Part Four – Low Quality Care

Previously we’ve written about three major problems facing healthcare consumers: lack of accesshigh costs, and intermediary barriers. Today we’ll highlight another problem causing the global healthcare crisis: low quality care.

Simply put, if people take better care of themselves, many medical conditions could be prevented[1]. The foundation of our current global healthcare system is the treatment of illness and disease rather than the promotion of good health. If we create the conditions to make it possible for people to take better care of themselves, many medical conditions such as type II diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and obesity could be prevented, along with associated costs[2].

Many current healthcare systems are sick-care models, meaning that they generally wait for people to get sick and then treat them, at the expense of more preventative methods of providing healthcare. In order to remain in business, doctors are spending less and less time with individual patients so they can see more patients throughout the day[3]. By shortening appointment times, important information and symptoms may be missed or dismissed, leading to misdiagnosis or undiagnosed problems[4].

Bad actors are not incentivized to give a correct diagnosis in current healthcare fee-for-service systems[5]. Extensive testing or unnecessary procedures are rewarded with higher profits[6]. Even with alternative opinions, misaligned incentives can lead to bad outcomes without a patient even realizing it[7]. For instance, an OB may perform more C-Sections than are medically necessary due for convenience and even profit’s sake.

When patients do not have easy access to their medical records, their quality of care is impacted[8]. Doctors in urgent care or emergency settings won’t have insight into a patient’s medical history, which can lead to incomplete diagnosis (or mis-diagnosis), duplication of procedures, costly interventions, and more[9]. A patient’s primary care doctor may be able to give insight into an emergency condition, but the parties may never actively communicate.

Current Solutions

Pursuing the philosophy of holistic care, patient-centric care makes illness prevention the paramount value[10]. This involves coordinating and integrating care between providers, providing post-diagnostic support and follow up, enabling access, and including patients in decision-making. Focusing on disease prevention rather than disease management means better overall health outcomes.

Future Solutions

It is still difficult to vet the quality and experience of participating physicians, and patients with emergent issues rarely research their options. A more informed and preventative patient experience will help prevent diseases, align incentives, and lead to better outcomes. Overall, the global healthcare landscape is uneven and ineffective, lacking efficiency, transparency, and a genuine concern about their nations’ well-being.

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About The Author

Karim Babay is Chairman & CEO of HealthSapiens, a nationwide healthcare provider that delivers on-demand access to healthcare anytime, anywhere, via mobile devices, the internet, video and phone. Mr. Babay is also the founder and Chief Investment Officer of Intrinsic Value Investment Partners, a value-focused hedge fund. Mr. Babay has over 15 years of global investing, entrepreneurial and corporate finance experience allocating capital across the capital structure (credit and equity), angel investing, liquid and illiquid investments in securities. Mr. Babay has published numerous studies and analysis while at Columbia University. Mr. Babay is member of the board of directors and Chairman of the compensation committee of GLYECO, a publicly traded company, principally involved in processing of waste into high quality ethylene glycol. Mr. Babay received a B.S. in finance and economics from HEC Institute and an MBA from Columbia Graduate School of Business.