Dr. Akst is aiming for 50 participants in the pilot study; then he plans to work with colleagues at Emory University and other sites with similar interests. By collecting enough surveys for a database, they are trying to demonstrate that treating hoarseness is on par with treating heart and lung conditions. As we measure the impact of dysphonia on a patient’s quality of life and measure outcomes, we hope to show that it is a medical condition deserving of serious consideration, he said.
Explore This IssueJune 2008
Working to Enable Better Treatment Decisions
As research such as Dr. Akst’s progresses, providers at QualityMetric Health Outcomes Solutions, a purveyor of health status and outcomes measurement products and services that use proprietary and analytical methodologies to capture, benchmark, and interpret actionable patient-reported health information, will record Dr. Akst’s findings. Surveys like Dr. Akst’s that capture patient-reported health information are added to QualityMetric’s database of 7500 peer-reviewed articles and 1000 clinical studies. They are also added to specialty-related bibliographies and disseminated to other clinician/researchers who are contributing similar data.
QualityMetric’s long-term goals are evaluating treatment effectiveness, differentiating between outcomes produced by a wide range of treatments, and enabling evaluation of treatment benefits in relation to health costs and utilization of services. With this information, physicians can work with their patients to make better-informed treatment decisions.
The Other Partner
Dartmouth Atlas proponents recognize that physicians greatly influence the appropriate utilization of health care, and that their patients have to play their part as well in reducing overuse and misuse. In a culture with a more is better attitude toward many things, including consuming medical care, attitudes for patients’ opting for lower, but still appropriate, levels of care are hard to achieve. The physician’s challenge is to work with each patient on choosing the right treatment option, thereby chipping away at unwarranted variations in the practice of medicine, one patient at a time.
Lance Lang, MD, Vice President and Senior Medical Director of Quality Management at HealthNet, Inc., a Woodland Hills, CA-based health care organization with members in various regions throughout the country, has incorporated the Dartmouth Atlas’s findings on geographical variations in medical treatments in a patient-friendly format. Describing himself as a disciple of John Wennberg, Dr. Lang viewed an early test of turning DA data into patient decision-making tools, videotapes of physicians discussing treatment options for men with enlarged prostates. The Decision Power videotapes, decision-support tools around elective surgery, were very impressive, so HealthNet decided to work with Health Dialog, a DA partner on developing such tools for our members, said Dr. Lang.