OMBUDSMAN: Doctor Helps Patients, Employers through the Morass
This week's San Francisco Business Journal spotlights Dr. Donald Linker, a urologist and professor at University of California-San Francisco with a booming side-business as a medical advocate, "helping people sort through the complex world of health plans, specialists, billing systems and employee coverage." Linker "sees himself as an ombudsman -- an impartial link between patients, doctors and health plans." He found that he could be an affective mediator because his colleagues "would gladly talk to him on their level to discuss the patient's case" even when they would not do so with patients or health plans. Further, Linker found that "as an informed but impartial outsider, the players are all the more willing to let down their guards." Linker receives most of his calls from confused consumers, but he has also received a substantial number of calls from "employers who want to help their staffs stop worrying about health claims and get back to work." The Business Journal reports that most doctors and plans Linker deals with are willing to change once he "asks a few questions." Linker said, "Not only do they not want the adverse publicity over a few dollars or a simple procedure --the real issue is that they don't think there's a problem in their system. The problem is always the other side's" (Bole, 4/12 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.