As physicians, our commitment to the Hippocratic Oath is to first do no harm. That’s an ever-growing challenge as patient volume increases and face time with each one decreases.

Physicians often find themselves in the difficult situation of effectively communicating important information to their patients in a finite period of time without seeming terse or abrupt.

This challenge is further complicated by an evolving framework of reimbursement that is focused on rewarding doctors for both quality and performance.

The word “performance” has both subjective and objective meanings, depending upon who is evaluating the situation. Under the Affordable Care Act, there’s an independent Advisory Board being established to set clinical practice parameters and guidelines that will serve as the framework for payment to physicians and hospitals.

Under another part of the new law, hospitals already are facing decreased reimbursement – or no reimbursement at all — when patients with congestive heart failure or pneumonia are readmitted within 30 days. Furthermore, this week it was announced that compensation to hospitals will also be based on patient satisfaction surveys.

As a result, many hospitals are now taking measures to implement amenities and luxuries that could help elevate consumer perceptions and, ultimately, reimbursement.

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