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Nov 20 2017
'Repeal and replace' unlikely to slow consumerism.
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Consumerism in health care has been making inroads for at least a decade with patients increasingly acting like consumers trying to make the best decisions for quality and cost, just as they do with any other commodity or service.

Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) accelerated this process, and it shows no sign of slowing today, especially as high-deductible health plans mean all of us are spending more directly out of our own pockets. Nothing in the “repeal and replace” rhetoric shows signs of reversing this trend.

Unfortunately, many patients have discovered the limits on how much they can play the savvy consumer. Objective quality and cost metrics are hard to come by, and there are still holes in that data that make it hard to discern differences between hospitals and doctors. Even if the data are available, increasingly health plan restrictions on choice defeat the power of the consumer.

At the same time, making health care choices is not exactly the same as finding the best deal on a television set. Why? Choosing a doctor or hospital is often just the first step in what could be a long string of related decisions and relationships, and the human connection between patient and provider can be a major factor in decisions.

As of today, Obamacare’s consumer protections preventing insurance companies from selling substandard policies, denying coverage for pre-existing conditions or dropping coverage after an insured gets sick remain in place. The trend to move health care policy to the state level is the most likely one to stick, if any major change does come.

Should this be the case, Wisconsin is far better prepared to assume this task without harming its residents than almost every other state. From the governor’s office to the entire administration, an active engagement in health care policy and making sure as many residents as possible have health care insurance has been a top goal.

A sign of success is that Wisconsin’s percent of population with health insurance coverage is nearly the highest in the nation, despite not accepting Medicaid expansion federal funds. Making more residents consumers rather than victims of health care costs through coverage has been a truly outstanding accomplishment.

Holy Family Memorial guides, supports and improves health by providing the Right Care in the Right Setting to achieve the Right Outcomes. To help health care consumers, HFM continually researches and utilizes innovation and best practices to provide patients with quality health care in the most effective and efficient manner.

For example, to help you manage your own health care, our primary care medical practices are moving to a Team Based Care model. This model, based on national trends, improves the health of our patients through improved access, care coordination, and ongoing communication between patients and their caregivers.

Our online My HFM Record portal system is another tool that allows patients to be more engaged in their overall health, and improve patient experience through better coordination and sharing of information.

With My HFM Record, HFM patients can view their health record, view and request appointments, pre-register for scheduled appointments, request prescription renewals, review lab results, and send secure messages to their health care provider.

Today’s health care consumer drives how HFM delivers care today and tomorrow. With our Right Care approach, one of our goals is to connect patients directly with care. Through HFM, you can utilize our Direct Access services for lab testing and therapy when you need it — without the need for a physician’s referral or prescription. This allows you to receive these services without spending the extra time or money to first see a health care provider.

In addition, HFM has partnered with Froedtert Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin to bring virtual health care straight to you — no matter the time or place. With HFM Right Now virtual visits, you get the care you need, when you need it. All you need is a device with a camera or webcam and an internet connection. Care is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Our team of board-certified family medicine practitioners is always available and ready to provide care for a variety of common conditions and minor illnesses. To request an HFM Right Now virtual visit or for more information, visit hfmhealth.org/hfmrightnow.

Mark Herzog is President & CEO at Holy Family Memorial. 



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