As physicians who care for women, ob-gyns must recognize the unmet needs of some of our patients—and the over-met needs of others. Carefully evaluating the needs of each of our patients will help improve care and reduce costs.
Every woman deserves health care that is necessary and appropriate for her. She also deserves a health care system that doesn’t burden everyone with unnecessary costs. In the changing healthcare environment, optimizing resources is critical for the continued improvement of women’s health care.
Many women in the U.S. have health care needs that are unmet. The ob-gyn workforce is dramatically mal-distributed over geographic areas. According to a 2008 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, four out of five new physicians begin practice in regions where the physician supply is already high.
As a profession, we must make sure we provide services in areas of greatest need. We must not leave behind communities with long-standing deficits in health and well-being. ACOG continues to advocate for these women through the activities of the department on Health Care for Underserved Women. We stand by the principal that all women deserve access to health care.
Physicians also play a major role in controlling health care costs. Recent improvements in research and technology have given physicians many additional diagnostic and treatment options, but not every new option is appropriate for every patient. It is critical for ob-gyns to connect value to cost to reduce inefficient care.
A great example is ACOG’s partnership with Choosing Wisely. The Choosing Wisely campaign was designed to promote conversation between doctors and patients to encourage only appropriate and necessary treatment. By following the guidelines from Choosing Wisely, physicians can make sure that they are not “over-meeting” the needs of patients.
As the only group of physicians whose primary role is to provide care for women, ob-gyns have a unique leadership role to play in making these tough calls. Our goal is to make sure every women in the U.S. gets the care she needs. No more, and no less.