Health Care Reform & Its Impact on the Doctor-Patient Relationship - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Health Care Reform & Its Impact on the Doctor-Patient Relationship

As health care reform takes effect, how will it change the relationship between patients and doctors? One of the big goals of health care reform is to help people stay healthy, instead of just caring for them when patients are sick.

Here are a few changes to expect, according to Dr. Rita Hanson, Chief Medical Officer for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. An internal medicine physician herself for more than three decades, Dr. Hanson has been a pioneer in the use of electronic health records and is now helping doctors throughout Southeast Wisconsin to use technology to take better care of their patients.

The Doctor/Patient Relationship

  • Focus on wellness: While doctors have always worked to keep people well, it will be a greater focus under health care reform. Not only is certain preventative care free to patients, health care providers will now be held accountable for keeping populations healthy and out of the hospital. 
  • Providing the right care at the right time: as health care changes, doctors will rely more on the proven best ways of practicing, even if it means not doing as many tests or procedures. For example, doctors may not be as likely to order an MRI for chronic back pain, as that is often unnecessary and adds unneeded health care cost. 
  • Use of technology to support wellness and appropriate care: Electronic Health Records are playing a bigger role in improving the quality of your health and health care. Expect to see more reminders by e-mail or text, and your health care team will also get alerts and electronic information to ensure your care is the best and most appropriate.
  • Health care as a team sport: while your doctor will still be involved in your care, you may also see other members of the team for certain care. Nurses and nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and dieticians will take a larger role in the effort to keep you healthy.
  • Your experience as a patient counts: the surveys you fill out about your experience and the quality of your care will actually make a difference in what hospitals and doctors are reimbursed. Now more than ever, patients have a voice in the quality of care they receive.

At the end of the day, the patient/physician relationship is still the foundation of our health care system and has to be based on mutual trust, respect and open communication.

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