Guest Opinions

Self-directed care is poor substitute for doctor-patient relationship

Dr. Rhonda Robinson-Beale
Dr. Rhonda Robinson-Beale B&B Photography

Health care is the subject of much discussion these days. An overlooked issue in Idaho is the fact that some people have lost the meaningful interaction with their doctor that helped them navigate a complex process.

Uncoordinated care — self-directed pursuit of health services — is not the best way to achieve a good health outcome. Patients benefit from the advice and direction from their doctor, who is their best advocate and can be their trusted medical adviser. They need professional medical advice about what to do, who to see and where to go, as they navigate the health care maze to identify the most cost-effective path to the best course of treatment.

Self-directed care using Google is not a substitute for your doctor’s advice.

This is particularly important to getting the best value from health care treatment. Uncoordinated care can lead to unnecessary services and cost more to patients, raising total cost and resulting in higher premiums in the subsequent years for all.

Recent research has shown that health care coordinated through a primary doctor actually leads to better health outcomes, and it also helps manage costs. In fact, a physician who is familiar with his/her patient enhances the ability to customize treatment and getting a successful response. Treatment and response is individualized, so familiarity with the patient’s body is essential to better care decisions.

The individual health insurance plans under the current Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are particularly well-suited for this coordinated care approach, because of the escalating cost to members under these plans. Blue Cross of Idaho has taken a leading role in Idaho to introduce this improved option for the benefit of Idahoans seeking individual health insurance and an opportunity to bend the cost curve.

Blue Cross of Idaho is working with hospitals and providers in the Treasure Valley to create tailored networks with coordinated and patient-centered health care. Similar models are being established elsewhere in the country. These tailored networks create the opportunity to provide care in an integrated system focused on delivering the highest-quality, most cost-efficient care.

Members will have personal care providers to give treatment and offer advice and guidance. They will help patients navigate the confusing system — ensuring quality care while avoiding redundant and unnecessary services that drives up costs unnecessarily and lead to problems.

Each of us — payers, providers and patients — plays a significant role in improving health care in Idaho. There’s no silver bullet to solve our health care challenges, but a patient-centered care model, focused on the patient-provider partnership, will have better results that benefit patients in the doctor’s office and in their wallet.

Dr. Rhonda Robinson Beale is senior vice president and chief medical officer of Blue Cross of Idaho.