Friday, January 18, 2008

Medical FICO Scores

There is some talk about getting a Medical FICO score. A FICO score has, so far, been used to judge the credit worthiness of consumers. This Medical FICO scores takes it a step further and finally admits, what the medical industry has known so far: Hospitals dont view the relationship between a doctor and a patient as that of a physician-patient relationship, but that of a provider and a consumer.

I dont disagree with the concept necessarily. The health industry has long been known for losing money on certain patients, and making up money on others. This seems like a way to fix the leakiness problem.

On the other hand, this sounds like a really bad idea from the perspective of a patient, especially because of the multitude of ways it can be expanded. Today, they talk about ability to pay. However, once enough data has been accumulated, the data can be mined to see what was being paid for. What health risks does this patient inherently have? If this patient has risks, maybe we can view her as a "repeat customer." This can lead to targeted ads on one end, and lack of treatment for chronic sufferers on the other end.

I worry about the slippery slope!!


Kelly Hills said...

I'd worry about lack of treatment, period. Sure, for chronic sufferers who can't afford the bills that their medical care creates, but also for people with no insurance who treat the ER as a doctor, or... stupid college kids, or anyone, really.

We're already in the middle of a public health nightmare; I'm not sure we should make it worse by creating an easier way to deny treatment.

Jennifer Emily Cochran said...

The reason I restricted my "worry" to chronic sufferers is because the people who treat the ER as their regular doctor are "protected" by federal laws that require treatment in urgent/emergent situations. Chronic sufferers have a "choice" about getting treatment, and may have options to get treated in other locations, which can be leveraged during treatment cases.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure about chronic sufferers really have a choice, especially when you see headlines like this:

Paraplegic man dumped in LA gutter sues hospital

Jennifer Emily Cochran said...

It is a sad comment on our times when a patient is left on skid row, at the end of their hospital stay.
On the other hand, dropping the patient off on skid row does not necessarily have to do with chronic suffering. It is commonly known in the healthcare industry that people from skid row come to hospitals, especially in winter, to avoid going to a homeless shelter. They figure that they can get a warm bed, food and heat, provided that they can provide a non descript pain symptom (usually, lower back pain.) This usually works relatively well. This, however, leaves hospitals with having to figure out what should be done once the patient's "pain" has been treated.
If the patient is well, s/he can be taken in a wheel chair, and dropped off at the door. On the other hand, if the patient is a paraplegic, and has no other place to go, the hospital has limited options, other than returning the person to where s/he came from: Skid Row. This is especially true considering most homeless people prefer not to go a homeless shelter since they are usually victimized at those shelters.

Jennifer Emily Cochran said...

I want to add another comment since, I admit that the last comment from me sees the issues from the point of view of the hospital. But, maybe its time to really ask the question: How do we fix the problem? How do we appropriately address the question of how to take care of our sick, and where should these sick people go when they feel better.