Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Calling All Shoppers - Redux

One of the recent stories that spurred a lot of discussion was in the NY Times, U.S. Plans Stealth Survey on Access to Doctors. It is an interesting concept that will help to try and quantify how difficult (or easy) it is for one to get into to see a primary care physician. They will also evaluate if the office staff will give preferential priority based on the "patients" stated insurance.

I applaud this move and believe it will produce some evidence as to how hard it is for new patient to seek care. Many physicians aren't too pleased with this survey as I would imagine it will tie up their resources. I blogged about this concept a few years ago when the AMA came out against the notion of "mystery shoppers."

Health care needs to be patient-centric as the retail industry is consumer-centric. Why should health care be any different conceptually? I hope that this experiment isn't more of an exercise on provider's offices (i.e. poorly trained or rude staff) rather than the issue of access to healthcare due to not enough primary care providers. I see this as an opportunity to document the need for more primary care providers including physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants - though do we really think there isn't a problem there already??

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