By Any Other Name

Patient-Centered-CareWhen a medical professional says or uses the word “patient”, we automatically know what is meant by that word. For those in the medical tourism industry, a patient is also a client, because they are buying your services as a medical tourism facilitator to provide them with medical care they either cannot afford at home, or that is unavailable. But how do those in other industries refer to persons receiving medical care or treatment in their line of work?

For the workers’ compensation industry, that question was answered recently by David De Paolo, president of WorkCompCentral, the leading news and education content resource to the workers’ compensation industry. In his blog, De Paolo mused on the usage of the terms, “claimant” and “injured worker”, both accurate and valid words meaning the same thing, but devoid of any personal relationship to the person receiving medical care.

But for De Paolo, the fact that many workers’ compensation industry service providers, such as adjusters, attorneys and physicians, use the words “claimant” or “injured worker” to describe what others call “patients”, leads to a dehumanization, which even he acknowledges doing, and in point of fact, I too have done in my previous posts from time to time, but in reality they are “patients”, and therefore human beings who are not always treated as such by a bureaucracy like the US workers’ compensation system.

However, for medical tourism industry personnel, such dehumanization is bad for business and since their reputations are built upon personalized service to their clients (i.e., patients), the use of any other word is unthinkable. But should medical tourism ever gain a foothold in the workers’ compensation arena, the danger of falling into the trap of using the same language as that industry’s professionals, must be recognized and guarded against.

No doubt in such a scenario, an employer or insurance company representative will refer to “Mr. Smith” as the “injured worker” or as the “claimant”, and it must not be forgotten by the medical tourism professional that this is a human being and not a claim number or an employee number. One of the most salient features of medical tourism is the personalized service and attention to detail that most facilitators pride themselves on providing. It would be a shame for that personalized service to be tarnished by the improper, or should I say, alternative meaning of the word, “patient” others are so readily conditioned to use in the same instance.

Call this a musing on a musing.

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This entry was posted in Medical Tourism, Workers' Compensation and tagged , on by .

About Transforming Workers' Comp

Have worked in the Insurance and Risk Management industry for more than thirty years in New York, Florida and Texas in the Claims and Risk Management spheres, primarily in Workers’ Compensation Claims, Auto No-Fault and Property & Casualty Claims Administration and Claims Management. Have experience in Risk and Insurance Business Analysis, Risk Management Information Systems, and Insurance Data Processing and Data Management. Received my Master’s in Health Administration (MHA) degree from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida in December 2011. Received my Master of Arts (MA) degree in American History from New York University, and received my Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Liberal Arts (Political Science/History/Social Sciences) from SUNY Brockport. I have studied World History, Global Politics, and have a strong interest in the future of human civilization in all aspects; economic, political and social. I am looking for new opportunities that will utilize my previous experience and MHA degree. I am available for speaking engagements and am willing to travel. LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardkrasner Resume: https://www.box.com/s/z8rxcks6ix41m3ocvvep

4 thoughts on “By Any Other Name

  1. Deanna Miller

    Richard, that is because they are seeing the side of things from the ‘payer’ point of view. I started in the business seeing everything from a clinical point of view, selling innovative devices accordingly to how they benefit specific indications for patients in need of surgical intervention. I learned very quickly that there are many players in the medical field and that everyone has a different point of view. It is very easy to get ‘dehumanized’ from being in surgery all day not seeing a patient awake as it is to deal with only seeing one side of the spectrum from a payer side. What I have enjoyed is learning the business backwards in essence, from a clinical perspective, and backtracking how a patient or ‘injured worker’ has gotten to having a need for surgery or a procedure. I value learning ‘other players’ perspectives, even if I do not always agree with them, as I always focus on what is best for the patient. I think that there is a need for more of this in healthcare, for all parties, providers, physicians, and payers.

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    1. richardkrasner Post author

      Deanna,

      From my background in Insurance and Claims, I see things the way DePaolo does, but I too, understand that there is a person who is being treated, that is one reason why I would like to see Work Comp open itself up to the medical tourism industry, so that injured workers could get the same care. I see no difference between knee surgery performed on someone with long-term knee problems, and someone who injured their knee at work.

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  2. Dr Ram Nath

    Well said, Mr Richard. The word ” Patient ” is sacrosanct & it should not be altered in any form or devalued either.But what about term consumer which is interchangeably used for patient by marketeers, insurers, patient advocacy groups, even attorneys. It is worse than claimant even. On downside, we have to admit that healthcare is dehumanized. It is high time to restore it to original position & first step in this regard will be strengthening doctors-patients relationships which is based on trust.Unless the role of all these fringe players be reduced to bare minimum either by self regulations or by laws, we are going to witness such phenomena on rise.

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    1. richardkrasner Post author

      Dr. Nath,

      You must be aware that the original post I took this from is in the realm of insurance companies and risk management, claims management and third party administrators, not healthcare providers. In the payor or employer world, such terms as “claimant” and “injured worker” are commonplace, but refer to the same thing that providers call “patients”. It is only because the insurance company, claims management or third party administrator does not provide medical care directly, that they use that word. And to the employer who hires the worker, he/she is just that, an employee, and when they are injured, they are called “injured worker”.

      Consumer does not apply in this case because the injured worker does not purchase anything, even though they do “consume” healthcare resources. With individual healthcare plans, the individual who “buys” medical tourism services is rightly a consumer.

      My purpose in musing on this subject was to get the medical tourism industry to recognize the difference in terminology and not to forget that there is a patient. I wrote it also because I believe that just as consumers are benefiting from medical tourism, so can “claimants”, “injured workers”, etc., without being dehumanized in the process.

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