Yesterday, I signed up for a new, free newsletter, The Medical Home Monitor. This is apparently aimed at those who are interested in this latest version of managed care and its new packaging and how this bogus concept can be sold to the public.
Its advocates promote the Medical Home as a revolutionary sea change in medical care for which the term Utopian fails to properly denote both its purported magnificence and its absurdity.
The Medical Home Monitor uses 7 (count them,seven) back to back adjectives to describe the Home. They are: accessible,continuous,comprehensive,family centered (alternatively the term patient centered is used),coordinated,compassionate, and culturally effective. Not only that but there will be improved clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction and it will not increase health care costs. Think of it, provide many more services that the typical patient now receives and it will not cost more.
Sandy Szwarc in her consistently insightful blog, Junkfoodscience, explains clearly the difference between the hype of the Medical Home and the reality of what it is as envisioned the single payer called CMS. This CMS version of Medical Home as contrasted the warm fuzzy words imployed to hype it gives a new dimension of hubris to the concept of bait and switch.
The Happy Hospitalist explains in agonizing, mind boggling detail the particulars of how the Medical Home will be constructed in the regulation driven world of Medicare.Any doc or any patient who might be conned into taking part in this scheme should read these two blogs.Anyone who believes that Medicare should serve as the paradigm for a universal single payer just might be disabused of that belief by digesting these two essays.
Nurses and doctors, of course, will play a key role in this Medical Care Utopia but patients will be interested to learn that in the Medicare version as structured by the AMA's RUC committee the nurse will be allocated 3.5 minutes for a patient with one condition and 9.4 minutes if 4 or more conditions are present to provide the comprehensive,compassionate, culturally effective care it purports to deliver. Similar micro managed time allocations are given for physician's time. I am not kidding, the RUC wonks describe activities in term of tenths of minutes. Doctors will be allowed 12.5 minutes for those patient classified as "very sick". If anyone on the RUC task force actually took care of complicated, complex medical cases , he/she must have slept through most of the sessions.12.5 minutes should be more than enough to evaluate a elderly person with heart failure,COPD, diabetes and new onset severe back pain who is living alone and taking nine different medications, leaving time to ask about dental flossing and seat belt use and immunization status and to make a few well chosen culturally sensitive comments and hand out three health care educational booklets and allow time for the patient to proudly show the latest photos of her grandchildren.
Dr. Roy Poses takes on this issue in his latest posting on Health Care Renewal as has Kevin in his May 8, 2008 entry blog (see here) and Dr. Vijay Goel in his blog,Consumer-focused Health Care, as he heartedly seconds the analysis of the Happy Hospitalist. If you think-well this is just the government bureaucratic mind set at work and private entities will show everyone how the "Home" should be built- read this earlier entry by DrRich in his blog, Covert Rationing Blog, as he explains how United Health Group plans to do it. I made some comments about that also.
I have been critical of the American College of Physicians' position and role in the Home concept and I await their justification of the RUC 's plans and how they can possibly support what would be a disaster for primary care.Rather than their typical sound bites (quality evidence based, patient centered care,electronic medical records, medical home, blah, blah, blah), they should be saying to the RUC and CMS "Gentlemen , we have read your proposal and as internists we know more than a little about caring for complex medical patients and we know that you cannot attend a complicated patient in 12.4 minutes and if you think it can be done you have no business writing guidelines or rules."