Surgery is expensive and it’s a difficult cost for health insurers to control. So insurers are using a new tactic –graphic, gory still images and videos of surgery– to discourage patients from proceeding, according to the Wall Street Journal. The article positions the videos as:
…part of the push toward so-called consumer-driven health care, a movement that encourages patients to be more discriminating shoppers, in part by requiring them to spend more of their own money.
I don’t think so. In a typical consumer directed plan, there’s a relatively high deductible and then traditional PPO insurance comes into force. Almost any surgical procedure will blow through a patient’s deductible and put them squarely into the traditional insurance arena, at which point the patient isn’t spending his own money.
It’s a good idea to educate patients about surgery; when patients know more about various options they may choose less aggressive paths. And there are services that can help patients make informed choices, without simply trying to scare them off. One such service is called EMMI, and is offered by Rightfield Solutions. Rightfield focuses on informing patients about their surgery through simple, interactive graphics and text without the gore. The company’s value proposition is a little different; it works to simultaneously improve patient satisfaction and to reduce malpractice risk by setting realistic expectations and documenting that those expectations were set.
Meanwhile, it won’t be long before the makers of the gory surgery videos start making videos of the side effects of expensive drugs. Stay tuned for videos of patients vomiting, having diarrhea, heart attacks, and episodes of psychosis.November 30, 2005