A medical treatment is a procedure used by a doctor or health care professional to improve or restore the normal function of a person’s body. It may be performed in a hospital or a clinic. Treatment can include a wide variety of procedures, from simple diagnostic tests to operations. Some treatments are not surgical, but help the patient manage a health condition by changing certain habits, such as diet and exercise. A wide range of other methods of treatment are also available, including physical therapy and counseling.
For example, if you have diabetes, the treatment may be to control your blood sugar with insulin. Some treatments, such as tetanus and flu shots, are considered first aid, but they are still medical treatment. Other examples are splints, bandages, ointments and antiseptics that may be applied to minor injuries, such as cuts and scratches. The use of drugs to treat mental illness is also considered medical treatment.
In the prevailing system, patients often receive portions of their care from a randomly assembled “pickup team” of clinicians who work in different places and rarely communicate with one another. This can result in duplication of effort, delays and inefficiency, as well as in unnecessary costs. It’s also been shown that existing costing systems are inadequate for identifying the actual costs of individual medical conditions.
Numerous studies show that it matters which providers treat a patient. Patients get better outcomes, and their costs generally decline when they seek care from providers with deep experience treating a specific type of health condition. However, the prevailing payment approach does not encourage this type of coordination. Instead, payors tend to reimburse physicians for their services on a fee-for-service basis, rather than providing incentives to coordinate.
As a result, the system operates under severe pressure to contain costs. This is leading to more physician-owned hospitals forming into large health systems, and more independent physicians joining medical groups or becoming salaried employees of hospitals. Patients, meanwhile, are traveling greater distances to obtain care from providers with high levels of expertise in their conditions.
A new model of care, known as bundled payments, is helping to improve efficiency and reduce costs. This type of payment includes all the costs associated with a particular medical condition for a defined period, aligning payment with what teams can control. For example, a bundled payment might cover the full care cycle for a chronic medical condition or primary and preventive care for an entire population.