KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Patients Are Under-Informed About Treatments; Home-Based Care Gains Popularity

The Seattle Times/Scripps Howard News Service: A survey of more than 3,000 patients age 40 and older reveals that physicians often leave information out when they present treatment plans to patients, who "hear far more from doctors about the pros than cons of medications, tests and surgeries." Often, "physicians tend to offer opinions, not options, the researchers found, and rarely mention to patients that they can decide not to do anything," according to the study, which was funded by the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making. Some health policy experts "feel the system is often biased toward doing something, and driving up costs while in reality adding little to overall health or life span. One program called for under the new health reform law…would develop, test and spread educational tools to help patients and their families fully understand treatment options" (Bowman, 10/20).

The Wall Street Journal: The new vision of home-based care will entail "physicians, nurses or therapists coming through the front door, or new care models being delivered through monitoring devices, computers," says family practice physician Steven Landers in a recent piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. The trend toward home-based care is driven by "five major forces -- the physical limitations of an aging population, a growing focus on chronic conditions, advances in 'miniaturization and portability' of technologies that facilitate care, a push towards health-care delivery in more convenient places and the need to reduce costs," according to Landers. The shift could take years or decades, Landers writes, depending on politics and the development of new payment models  (Hobson, 10/20).

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