The problem, of course is the incentives: our fee-for-service payment scheme rewards physicians and hospitals for doing stuff to patients, regardless of whether it is the cost-effective thing to do.
To try and fix the problem, the government is evaluating hospital performance using patient satisfaction scores. The Wall St. Journal has a funny piece about its obvious shortcomings:
"Donna Barnett, a senior nurse at Grady [Hospital], cites a patient who had a hemorrhagic stroke and recovered swiftly enough to walk out of the hospital about a week later. On the survey the patient complained that meals were served cold and gave Grady low scores. 'It makes you want to throw your hands up,' said Ms. Barnett."
When Vanderbilt asked patients what they wanted, it was easy and free parking, which explains the valet parking and unsightly parking structures all over campus. Patients didn't seem to care too much about the quality of care, and not at all about the cost because other people (you and I) pay for their care.
And lets not forget the placebo effect, which means that patients are not satisfied unless providers do something to them.