He worries that the data release might strain relationships between patients and their physicians due to misconceptions in the absence of meaningful context for review of the data. “One of the benefits of transparency, assuming the data is accurate and meaningful, is that it might be an opportunity for one to change practice patterns [and] review one’s billing practices, etc.,” he said. “But, in my opinion, the goal of all of this should be improving patient care, and it should be a physician-patient process. Unfortunately, many of these things serve to pit the physician against the patient”—a dynamic, he said, “that has declined in the last decade.”
Explore this issue:August 2014
If the topic of Medicare payments were to come up during a patient visit, particularly related to treatments that patient is receiving, Dr. Waguespack said he hopes the doctor would be able to discuss medical necessity and appropriateness in the context of those treatments. But new demands to lower costs tug against demands to improve documentation and enhance patient relations, he said.
“It’s sometimes hard to find the right balance,” Dr. Waguespack said. “But that communication is the underpinning of every doctor-patient relationship.”
Thomas Collins is a freelance medical writer based in Florida.