Delivering high-quality, cost-effective care requires not only medical knowledge but also good clinical judgment to focus on what’s important and avoid useless tests and ineffective treatments. Here are three tips to get started.
1. Practice benevolent skepticism. When patients insist on a particular treatment, such as antibiotics or opioids, they may indeed need that treatment, or they may not. Benevolent skepticism balances compassion with healthy suspicion so you can ask the right questions and arrive at the best decision.
2. Always confirm what a patient tells you. If a patient asks you to provide ongoing management for a condition that was established elsewhere, verify the diagnosis. For example, a patient may say she has inflammatory bowel disease when in fact the previous doctor diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome.
3. Distinguish diseases from social problems. Before ordering endless tests for patients with recurring problems, consider what role the patient’s family and social situation might be playing. For example, a patient’s mild chest pain could be a symptom of major life stress.
Adapted from “Cost-Effectiveness Begins Between Your Ears.”
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