In the ongoing political struggle over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a key component - the patient - remains under-discussed, argues Abraham Verghese, MD, a professor of medicine at Stanford. Verghese recently gave a talk at the University of Denver, and his thoughts on the new law, and his call for judicious use of medical tests and procedures, and attention to bedside manner, were among the topics of discussion. Barbara Ellis of the Denver Post reported in a blog piece earlier this week:
“We’ve worried so much about the process, not the patient,” Verghese said. “If the purpose of Obamacare is to help people get health insurance; if its purpose is to not punish people with pre-existing conditions; if its purpose is to promote quality health care … then what’s so bad about it?”
“Whatever Obamacare does, it will put a premium on not ordering medical tests willy-nilly,” he said. “It will force physicians to come up with a rational idea of what to do next.”
Verghese also talked about technology and how it can improve the quality of care, so long as physicians address the patient first. “A physical exam is a ritual. Someone is telling me their intimate details, allowing themselves to be touched," he said, according to the Post. "That’s a ritual that’s important to patient care."
Previously: Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone: Two years as a New York Times best seller, A call for extended bedside-manner training and Can the use of devices among physicians lead to “distracted doctoring?”