Does it matter which doctor you see?

In a world, rapidly globalizing and incorporating, the general perception may be that all doctors, hospitals, and treatment options are the same or standardized. There is so much technology and information available, that everyone is on a level playing field… Right?

Particularly in the Grand Rapids area, practices are being incorporated into big health systems such as Spectrum, Mercy Health, Metro, etc. This is indeed creating some unique and effective partnerships that allow for opportunities for costs savings and better patient outcomes.

However, the trend is increasing healthcare costs despite similar long-term outcomes or results. This trend is fueled by patients undergoing the more costly and invasive testing and treatments protocols. The research would indicate choosing the right provider still makes a difference.

For example, according to a recent article published in Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice patients that have an initial encounter with a chiropractor achieve a more cost effective outcome for management of low back pain. This study involved 747 patients who were treated for a low back complaint. The study examined the patients’ outcome according to the first provider they sought care from, whether a primary care physician, a chiropractor, a physiatrist, or a physical therapist.
The chiropractic patients had fewer advanced imaging and surgical interventions. This means a more cost-effective outcome! These findings have been supported by prior studies, but gives a fresh look at the topic by highlighting the likelihood of receiving more costly interventions based on provider rather than just overall cost per patient case.