Tag Archives: doctors

Is WebMD helping or hurting?

Healthcare costs are through the roof and are generally one of the bigger issues facing the country (when the economy isn’t overshadowing everything else). Healthcare costs also are dragging on the economy. So bringing those costs down is a very important goal. I touch on this a little bit last week, and this week is going to look at another small piece of the puzzle–you.

Getting costs under control is going to require everyone, from doctors and pharmaceuticals to the patients themselves. For example, the CDC reports that in 2008 there were 123.8 million ER visits. According to the Director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, almost $700 billion is wasted on unnecessary care. Some of this unnecessary care comes in the form of unneeded ER visits. This article contains links to sources for both claims. It also makes some good counter-arguments in terms of saving costs on ER visits. But I’m not trying to argue about how much we could save on ER visits.

In general, patients can help cut healthcare costs with some education. We should be teaching high school students when they need to go to the doctor and when they don’t, about health insurance, and the differences between name-brand and generic pharmaceuticals. (Also, the importance of healthy eating. I’m pretty sure that was covered in my 9th grade health class, but I didn’t get much out of it. And everything gets overcomplicated when it comes to healthy eating). It would be expected with increased internet access that patients would have better access to health information. I’m sure sites like WebMD and Mayo Clinic Health Information pop to mind.

So why haven’t we seen a decrease in costs (or unnecessary ER visits) as more people have gotten access to the internet and its wealth of health information? It’s a good question, and I don’t have the answer. But I do wonder if sites like WebMD are actually helping or hurting things.

1. Easy Access Info

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Links #2

This week’s links are fewer than I normally would like, but I’m using a couple of articles for a post coming later today or tomorrow. Getting closer to having them in on Thursday though! One of these weeks I’ll actually have them on time (or I’ll meet myself halfway and make it a Friday post). Anyways, three of the posts this week are from kevinmd.com. Great site; always interesting stuff on there. Usually I’ll try to work a little more variety in, but some of them warranted a separate post this week. Without further ado:

1. “What Would a Smart, Compassionate, Affordable Health Care System Look Like?” This is an insightful piece on some of the problems in our healthcare system. At the heart of the article is the idea that we are spending too much for what we are getting. It doesn’t offer any solutions, but does raise a number of questions in an attempt to get some discourse started.

2. “Two Changes to Cut Federal Health Care Expenditures” This article does offer a couple of solutions to the massive amount spent on health care. #1 surprised me. It just seems odd to me that negotiating for prices would be prohibited in the first place. #2 also makes sense at a basic level, but I want to know who would be deciding efficacy and effectiveness. I would worry about politics getting too involved and ending up right back where we started.

3. “Why Doctors Shouldn’t Leave Their Emotions Behind” I found this piece interesting as someone looking to get into medicine. I think I would rather be the kind of doctor who does form a relationship with each patient rather than staying emotionally detached. But at the same time, I can see how that would take a definite toll. Thought it was interesting.

4. “Corn Subsidies Make Unhealthy Food Choices the Rational Ones” This topic is one I find very frustrating personally. I’ll probably end up doing a whole post on it at some point, but this article does a good job of getting the basic info out there. Our national agricultural system needs an overhaul. I’ll save the rest of the rant for another time and just leave it at the article for now.

Tagged , , ,