Information Prescriptions

from the seems-more-complex-than-necessary dept

Just a reminder that healthcare is a business. We know that plenty of people go online to look up information about medical problems, and that not all information online is trustworthy. So, what do you do about it? One company is trying to convince doctors to write “information therapy” prescriptions that point people to specific websites they should look at. Of course, doctors need incentive to do this, so the plan is to charge patients a nominal fee ($1) for each of these information prescriptions. Half of that dollar goes to the doctor to encourage him or her to give out this info, and then some of the money goes to the information provider as well. The company suggesting this plan says it won’t really affect patients because (of course) insurance will cover it. That this might cause insurance rates to increase doesn’t seem to occur to them. Also, that this is trying to charge patients just for links to information that might make them healthier, also doesn’t seem to bother them.

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Comments on “Information Prescriptions”

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D Henkel-Wallace says:

No Subject Given

I think this is bogus (payola to doctors was banned by Ted Kennedy in the ’70s) but not for the reason you mentioned:

Also, that this is trying to charge patients just for links to information that might make them healthier, also doesn’t seem to bother them.

After all, if your doctor were to suggest you buy a book on how to lower your blood pressure though diet you wouldn’t object to paying.

The bogus part is the amount: $1 is a lot to pay for a brochure. But in principle this could be useful and reasonable.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No Subject Given

That’s a good point, but a book costs money to buy. A website doesn’t cost money to visit. The problem is with the idea that a doctor won’t tell you about a *free* piece of information, unless he gets paid extra for it. You’ve already paid for the doctor’s appointment, and at that point the doctor should be obligated to tell you the information you need to know. If that information itself costs extra to get (such as a book), then the costs need to be dealt with. But, if they’re just pointing you to free information, then I have a problem with it.

What comes next? The doctor’s appointment is only $25. But, the *diagnoses* is $100? I shouldn’t feel like my doctor is holding back information from me unless she is getting an additional cut.

Chris (user link) says:

No Subject Given

What the docs should be doing is using their practice’s web site to point to reliable sources of information. For most of history, going back to Witch Doctors and Shamen, doctors have been above reproach because the only people with access to the same info were other docs. The Internet has changed that, although the docs can still play a vital role as evaluators of the vast amount of info. And they can make money on this. I, and probably most readers of this web site, are more likely to go to a doctor that looks like he has some sense of the digital age, and its power to help improve health care.
As a generalization, we haven’t even scrathced the surface of how to use this stuff to make us all more healthly, at a lower cost.

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