The High Cost of Patient Discomfort
In busy clinics and hospitals, doctors must work efficiently to stay on schedule. Here in the U.S., the average length for a doctor’s appointment is 20 minutes. In the world of fast-moving medical care, patient comfort cannot fall through the cracks. Doctors rely on RNs, LPNs, and Medical Assistants to help patients feel at ease during appointments. In addition, doctors must have the right equipment and supplies available. Some procedures will be uncomfortable to a certain degree, but a well-designed medical device can be the difference between a negative experience and a tolerable one.
Ensuring a patient is comfortable during an exam or procedure is an integral part of providing good healthcare. Patients who are satisfied with their medical care will return to the same doctor and clinic. They will also recommend their doctor to family and friends. Doctors with good reputations have a steady flow of patients, and in turn, reliable income.
On the other hand, patients who have a negative experience may be less likely to come back for routine care. Doctors and clinics take a financial hit when their patients skip appointments or move to another clinic.
Causes of Patient Discomfort
There are several reasons a patient may feel both emotional and physical discomfort during a medical appointment. A perceived poor bedside manner can add to a patient’s anxiety. If the procedure or exam isn’t explained ahead of time, a patient may not be prepared for any pain or discomfort. Each patient has their own perception of pain and pain tolerance, so it can be difficult for doctors to understand their patients’ discomfort.
The design of common medical devices like vaginal specula and anoscopes impact a patient’s experience. Traditionally, many medical devices are made to be reusable. These devices are made of metal so they can withstand repeated reprocessing. One downside to metal is that it is a thermally conductive material. Metal devices will feel hotter or colder than other materials used in the same environment. This can lead to unpleasant experiences during sensitive procedures like pap smears and anoscopies.
Consequences of Patient Discomfort
Loss of Income for Doctors
Consumers turn to review websites for information on restaurants, schools, and stores. Today, choosing a doctor is no different. Rating websites like Healthgrades, Vitals, and RateMDs allow patients to rate doctors and other healthcare providers.
It is worth noting that doctor review sites have inherent flaws. Virtually anyone can log in and leave a review for a doctor, whether or not they have actually seen that particular doctor. According to the National Center for Health Research (NCHR), patients are more likely to post exceptional ratings and very poor ratings. Average and satisfactory experiences are typically never represented in these sites. HIPAA prevents doctors from responding to or commenting on online reviews.
Despite these flaws people do, in fact, consider online ratings when choosing a doctor. The NCHR found that 34% of young adults consider doctor rating websites when choosing a new doctor. Even if patients don’t post on review sites, they may still share unpleasant experiences with family and friends. One negative appointment, and an entire family could move their care to another doctor or even a different clinic.
Patients Will No-Show
Patients who are leery of returning to a doctor because of a negative experience may cancel their appointment at the last minute. They may even be a no-show, resulting in lost income for the doctor. An appointment slot that could have otherwise been filled will now be unbilled.
There is usually a discrepancy between what doctors bill for a service and the actual amount the insurance company pays out. Figures vary both between insurance companies and locations within the U.S. The website Healthcare Bluebook provides insight into how much pay doctors lose out on when an appointment is skipped. In suburban Chicago, a 15-minute office visit for an established patient costs between $89 and $227. The actual amount a doctor typically receives from an insurance company is $151. In New York City, a doctor can expect to receive $167 for the same 15-minute office visit.
Higher Medical Costs for Patients
Routine screenings like pap smears and anoscopies can catch common cancers in their earliest stages. When patients avoid the doctor, they lose the opportunity to detect and treat conditions before they advance. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. When pap smears catch cervical cancer early, it can be treated with an outpatient procedure like LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure) or laser surgery. In later stages, a hysterectomy or ongoing treatment like radiation or chemotherapy may be required.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer for men and women worldwide. An anoscopy is one procedure that can detect colorectal cancer before it spreads. The five-year survival rate for an early stage diagnosis is 90%. In later stages, the survival rate for colorectal cancer drops to only 13%.
When cancers are not detected until later stages, the financial burden for patients increases. The results of high medical costs can be devastating. The Chicago Tribune reported that cancer patients file for bankruptcy more than twice as much as the general population.
Patient Comfort Results in Positive Financial Outcomes
Doctors, clinics, and hospitals have it within their power to create a comfortable environment for patients. Using obp’s medical devices during routine exams is both efficient for doctors and comfortable for patients.
Our single-use illuminating devices come equipped with bright, non-heating LED lights. This eliminates the cost and inconvenience of separate lighting and bulbs. Facilities have fewer items to order and keep in stock. Single-use devices save time and money by not burdening reprocessing departments. Hospital and clinic staff do not have to search for devices that were stored incorrectly after reprocessing.
When patients are comfortable, they trust their doctor. Patients who receive routine medical care have a better chance of staying healthy. In turn, doctors have a steady flow of patients they can count on.
For more information about our devices, contact us.