Unfiltered: The medical jargon healthcare leaders hate most

Sachin Jain, MD, CEO of SCAN Health Plan and adjunct professor at Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine, posed a question to LinkedIn on June 6: What healthcare jargon do you find most confusing or unhelpful?

His top three answers? The terms "provider," "whole-person" and anything that includes "centric."

Here's what five other healthcare leaders said:

Lisa Schaffner, PhD. Vice President of Care Analytics at Highmark Health (Pittsburgh): Social determinants of health, which has become shorthand for describing social factors which can negatively impact health and health care outcomes. Over 40 years of research on the topic has demonstrated that there are also social factors which are positively correlated with our health status and outcomes of care!

Benjamin Maisano. Former Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Atlantic Health System (Morristown, N.J.):
1. "Engagement" — So you send text messages or is this something else?

2. "Referrals" — this is really just a note to the patient saying "sorry I can't help you, but good luck booking with the next guy."

3. "Professional billing" — as opposed to those non-professionals who are dropping bills?

4. "Risk-adjusted value-based retrospective episode of care program" — ?!?

Ophelia Byers, DNP, APRN. Chief Nursing Officer at Overlook Medical Center (Summit, N.J.): More than the words themselves is the lack of effective structures and functions that could give the words more depth and clarity. For example: Too many leaders, in healthcare and other industries, throw around important words and concepts, like "‘engagement,"’ "‘empathy,"’ "well-being,"’ and "‘safety",’ with no real analysis or concrete way forward.

Peter Peter, PharmD. Director of Pharmacy at Texas Children's Health Plan (Houston):
1. "For- profit" healthcare — It's a required service, costs will always go up, so profit needs will always go up, meaning...costs will always go up?

2. "Socialized medicine" — except Medicare for some reason?

3. The "free market" illusion — there are 4 major pharmacies, 3 major PBMs, 4 major hospitals, 5 major health plans, and no transparent drug prices. You're also stuck to your employer- sponsored insurance because the average "consumer" can't honestly make an "informed decision." 

4. Rebate/discount card/percent billed charges — all ways to inflate the real cost to then negotiate down to an inflated cost so everyone can make a profit (except the patient needing the care).

Sandeep Palakodeti, MD. Former CMO of Population Health at University Hospitals (Cleveland): Co-pay, co-insurance, deductible, premium, health savings account, flexible savings account, open enrollment period, benefits, in/out-of-network, etc. Healthcare and our basic insurance model is so broken. I'm waiting for the innovative health plan that actually finds a way to just eliminate all the jargon. 


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