Communication issues

I wanted to call your attention to a couple of recent stories illustrating problems with health information.

Reader’s Digest has something this month about errors in pathology and radiology, often related to lack of communication. I wonder how much this story will scare the public, especially given the perception that Reader’s Digest attracts a lot of retirees? Of course, fear often is a good motivator.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune wrote last week about an interesting conundrum for patients. With all the talk about consumer-directed health plans and transparency in health information, healthcare providers are unable to tell people what various procedures actually cost.

One of the sidebars to this story reported that five of six local hospitals contacted about pricing either would not or could not provide the requested information.

As someone with a high-deductible health plan, I had a similar experience earlier this summer. I asked a PA about the price of an injection she recommended for me, and she decided it was easier to give me the service gratis than to find out what it would cost. I was billed only for the office visit.

I guess it pays to ask questions.