The once contentious issue regarding the revelation of the comparative performance of physicians on a wide spectrum of variables may have been resolved in the favor of health care consumers but physicians still feel that justice was not done (Sultz & Young, 2008). For a long time, medical practice in this country has been left in the hands of the private sector, a trend that has seen many consumers of healthcare services suffering for different reasons.
One them is that it was difficult for patients and their families to get good quality health care services because there was no way they could tell a good physician from a bad one. However, with the policy change that now gives consumers the power to seek to have report cards of physicians before deciding where and/or from whom to get health care services, not only has the quality of health care services improved but also the overall performance of health practitioners (Bouldet et al. , 2006). This is owed to the need they have to satisfy their clients and compete with each other in the field.
This issue is important for discussion because it has generated a lot of debate in the past and the present, with the American Medical Association (AMA) leading physicians and medical institutions of learning in seeking to have information on the performance of physicians kept secret (Sultz & Young, 2008). Aside from the controversy, this issue is critical in that it touches on other important aspects of the nation such as the economy where more transparency has been deemed to reduce financial burdens since consumers can determine where to source quality health care at affordable prices.
Discussion The disclosure of physicians’ information is a welcome move for several reasons. First of all, it has made the economic burden on not only consumers but also other stakeholders in the sector like the government and insurers to go down (Sultz & Young, 2008). This is because without such revelations, malpractices resulted in a lot of spending by insurers in terms of compensation, not to mention the losses of lives that resulted and the government spending on court cases.
With the disclosure, however, physicians are more careful and the generally higher quality of service has enabled malpractices to significantly reduce. Another reason the disclosure is timely is that consumers have the final say regarding the nature of service they get. Unlike in the past when consumers took what was available, they now have the right to refuse services from certain physicians if such have a poor record in a given area of specialty (Salsberg & Forte, 2002).
Another reason why disclosure is important is that it tends to encourage specialized health care as opposed to generalized care. This is because every practitioner is under some form of pressure to carry out one’s duties effectively and the only way to do this is to specialize in the area where one is best gifted as opposed to many areas where one might not have the right skills. Specialization, in turn, has the effect of generally improving the quality of health care (Salsberg & Forte, 2002).
There is also the advantage of health care consumers being treated more ethically than before. This is because the disclosure of physicians’ information has come with the issuance of report cards for their performance. Every physician wants to get a good report card and to ensure his services are in demand. This is regardless of whether one is in private or public practice for even in public health facilities cost-cutting measures are being implemented and only those physicians whose performance is good are desirable.
With the advances in technology, physicians are increasingly using the internet to find information on key areas of their practice (Bouldet et al. , 2006). In a similar manner, consumers must be allowed to find out which physician is best placed to offer them the highest quality service. In essence, the changes in health care practice mean that new approaches to issues are adopted. Such disclosures represent just one form of the new trends (Sultz & Young, 2008).
Finally, there is a need for the government to regulate health care practitioners through the use of registration, licensing, and certification in order to safeguard consumers from malicious practitioners. To do this effectively, details about these practitioners ought to be made available to the public so that those who are proved to have a history of poor practice can have their services discontinued through deregistration or revocation of their licenses and/or certificates (Sultz & Young, 2008).
Conclusion The disclosure of information about physicians, although opposed by physicians, is important to the consumers because it gives them the upper hand in making decisions concerning their own health. Through a critical analysis of this issue, it can be ascertained that such a disclosure has helped reduce malpractices amongst physicians, reduced the costs of health care for consumers, and reduced the burden on insurers.
It has also improved the quality of service as physicians now aspire to do their best to earn good report cards. Specialized care has also increased, effectively increasing the life expectancy of many people as they are handled by professionals in different areas. As such, this topic is very important in the study of health care as it gives learners the chance to understand that as future practitioners they need to start preparing early for such disclosures through different ways such as specialization.
Word count: 907 References Bouldet, J. R. et al. (2006). “The international medical graduate pipeline: recent trends in certification and residency training. ” Health Affairs; 25:469–477. Salsberg, E. S. & Forte, G. J. (2002). “Trends in the physicians workforce, 1980–2000. ” Health Affairs; 21:165–173. Sultz, H. A. & Young, K. M. (2008). Health Care USA: Understanding Its Organization and Delivery. Jones & Bartlett Learning.