Protecting Your Health and Money in the New Era of Medical Decision-Making

Catherine Gallagher
Director, Cochrane Collaboration College for Policy
Monday, April 28, 2014 at 7:15 p.m.

Have you ever been told to undergo a medical test or treatment procedure without any knowledge of what it costs and how much you will be paying? What it will lead to in health procedures later? What it will tell your provider that other cheaper tests might reveal? Or what the costs will be to your life if you do not get the test? The answer for most of us is a resounding “yes”, though this is at odds with the new health care mantra of “shared decision making” in which patients work with their providers to reach a plan. Patients and their care givers do belong directly in the center of all decisions, yet we have not provided access to the right information about their options, the costs of each or any of the components, or the consequences of going ahead or foregoing the care. Recent public debates surrounding when men should have their prostate removed, or when women with no risk factors should begin routine breast screening are but the very tip of the iceberg; patients in this new age of decision making require tools and best evidence across the board– for simple things like paying $16 for over-the-counter cough syrup to undergoing full body screening offered up as prevention measures by local health systems. This discussion uses real cases to illustrate tension points in decision processes to bring to life the costs and consequences of how you participate in your care.

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