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Health | Opinion
Mark Trahant: Sometimes less is more in health care system

"A family member and I visited a clinic over weekend. First, a nurse, then the doctor, then X-ray, back to the nurse and finally back to the doctor. The patient took lots of steps. The providers were earnest, carefully asking good questions then filling in the details on the patient’s chart.

But what if one or more steps are eliminated? Well, two things happen: costs drop and patient care often improves.

How does less produce more? The answer is to shift the focus of the story – the programming – from the “doctor” to the patient.

For example, at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, that relationship is described as working, “With the patient as the hub, the team includes the patient’s family, the primary care physician, a nurse case manager, certified medical assistants, case management support, a social worker, and a behavioral health specialist. Additional ‘virtual’ team members include health educators, midwives, nutritionists, and pharmacists. Many specialists (including chiropractors, massage, acupuncture and ‘usual’ medical specialists) are ‘layered’ in.

In day-to-day terms that might mean a patient won’t see a doctor during an office visit – and be the better for it."

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