Findings from Lown Institute underscore dire need for reforms
December 2, 2016 (Boston, MA)–More than 20 percent of respondents to an informal study conducted by the Right Care Alliance*, a grassroots network of clinicians, patients and community leaders affiliated with the Lown Institute, indicated that access to medical care was their greatest health care worry.
As part of its second annual Right Care Action Week (October 16-22, 2016), members of the Alliance asked individuals at various locations throughout the nation to write answers to “What Worries You Most?” on index cards that were provided. In all, there were 690 respondents, and 822 worries from cards.
This year’s focus of RCAW was listening, the bedrock of good health care. Organizers carried out various activities related to listening to show support for what right care means and how different health care should be. Among the activities were the ‘What Worries You Most?’ cards. Physicians and nurses handed out cards to patients in hospitals and medical offices, as well as to passersby in public places such as parks and metro stations, where organizers also engaged individuals in health care discussions.
Many of the comments received from the cards did not reveal specific medical concerns but social issues. For example, in the emergency room of a Missouri hospital where cards were distributed, one responded wrote that her greatest worry was “someone was trying to harm me.”
Other notable card comments:
“My prescription costs have gone up drastically, from $17 a month to $143.”
“Health care has turned into ‘an assembly line.’”
“Doctors’ constant use of the computer technology during annual physicals is more important than the patient.”
“Patients get poor quality because providers can only spend 10 minutes with us.”
“Unavailability of health care for dental or vision problems because of lack of money.”
A physician from New York who participated in RCAW took a different approach. He enlisted dozens of colleagues to phone a patient or two a day to invite a conversation about an issue that they never had time to talk about during office visits. Many patients were delighted by the calls and disclosed they had not been compliant with drugs or diets—crucial information that the physicians would not have known from the typical office visits. The physicians now delve deeper into the patient interview process during visits, and some will continue the calls to patients.
“These findings further stress how health care has strayed from its core values,” said Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Lown Institute. “Not only did more than a third of respondents state that either access or costs were of great concern, but they also disclosed what we have known for a long time—that good health is more than health care. It involves basic needs like housing and safety—powerful factors that are often overlooked in the rush to diagnose and treat.”
Other findings from the study: Cost of care was the concern cited by 18 percent of respondents; followed by quality, 12 percent; politics, 10 percent; insurance, 10 percent; and personal or family matters, 9 percent.
Right Care Action Week is generously sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
*The Right Care Alliance is a grassroots network of activists affiliated with the Lown Institute. The network includes clinicians, patients and community leaders who recognize the epidemic of overuse and underuse in health care and feel a moral responsibility to act and to advocate for a transformed health system.
About the Lown Institute
The Lown Institute, a nonprofit, action-driven think tank, is dedicated to transforming the culture of medicine and building a health care system that is affordable, effective, personal and just. The Institute was founded by renowned cardiologist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Bernard Lown, MD, and supports his vision for compassionate health care. Visit www.LownInstitute.org and follow us on Twitter at @LownInstitute.
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