Archive for October 21st, 2006

Another article from the New York Times.

A product sold by Neurometrix, called NC-stat, is the topic of an article today’s New York Times, in particular the way it shows the problems with how doctors are reimbursed for the care that they provide.

Also provided here, is a link from Medgadget, and their review of how the NC-stat device works.

The interest for me, however has less to do with the device itself, but the following paragraph near then end of the piece:

For physicians, who might be able to bill only $80 or so for a routine 30-minute office visit, Neurometrix’s promise of a profit as high as $250 for 15 minutes, is compelling. So was a customer-referral program in which physicians could receive hundreds of dollars in free products for steering other doctors to Neurometrix.


For some health policy analysts, the popularity of such procedures illustrates why primary care doctors should be paid more for basic office visits and less for money-making procedures. Earning $250 from a diagnostic test “is obviously out of line with what physicians can earn from office visits,” said Paul Ginsburg, the president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a Washington research group.

The reality is that doctors are simply not paid very much for spending time with patients, particularly in comparison to doing some fancy procedure.  The Medicare payments system that prices things based on the amount of resources it uses encourages people to use resources.  It seems obvious, but if one creates an incentive, one shouldn’t be surprised if people take it.  In this case, one shouldn’t be surprised if the entire medical industry is geared toward using more resources.

In fact, the expert doctor who can accurately diagnose people quickly is actually paid less, because, well, they’re too fast.

Anyway, the complete article is below.


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