Word clouds have become useful tools to understand language people use to talk about various topics. The larger and bolder the words in the cloud, the more frequently they are used. The word cloud below shows the words physicians used when discussing stewardship of resources and issues related to costs.
It is interesting and heart-warming to note that patients are mentioned most often. We learned from these conversations that physicians focus on individual patients more than costs of care – a wisdom evident to most.
These conversations also revealed physicians’ deep fears of causing harm to their patients by conducting tests and not conducting tests. Physicians are more focused on avoiding harm than cost savings.
Physicians also discussed the importance of involving others – patients, hospitals and purchasers/payers – in finding solutions. Physicians we spoke with were genuinely concerned about the issue of cost and are trying to avoid unnecessary care. But everyone blamed each other for the problem; primary care physicians blamed the surgeons and others who perform procedures and the specialists blamed the primary care physicians for unnecessary referrals.
Understanding the different perspectives and the language of conversations around this important topic is the first step in developing solutions.