There is a poll that came out recently, done by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The poll looks at Americans' perceptions of their healthcare, doctors, insurance, and health. And the findings are surprising.
Two things, in particular, struck us about patient perceptions -- and they may indicate an important reframing of where the problems and opportunities in medicine lie.
1. Doctors are great, but the medical system is not working because of the gaps between doctors.
About 80 percent of Americans say they get good or excellent care. But 42 percent rate the health care system in their state as fair or poor.
How to reconcile those dramatically different numbers? Our take is that patients recognize that the doctor that is caring for them is doing a great job. It is the system itself that people are struggling to navigate -- and the ways doctors collaborate and communicate with each other. NPR comments that difficulty in navigating the system, repeat visits, and the process of getting help is what patients dislike.
2. Patients probably don't have a single provider who coordinates all their care.
Nationally, a quarter of adults say they do not have a regular doctor or health care professional who provides most of their health care when they are sick or have a health concern.
When people do not have a medical home, providers have to be sharing that they know about patients with each other. Healthcare collaboration and active coordination of care becomes crucial in providing even basic levels of care.
To us, these findings point more than ever to care coordination as a huge part of what it will mean to improve medicine. Each provider may be caring for his or her patient in excellent ways -- but if we're not talking to each other, then patients can get lost in the cracks.
Get our take on using telemedicine for care coordination and healthcare collaboration: