Love the Profession, Hate the Game
Change today’s perception of the physician, the patient and very definitely – of today’s healthcare “delivery system.”That is the intent and drive behind the work done by Dr. Marlene Wüst-Smith. As the publisher of the respected Physician Outlook (PO) magazine and appointed Impact Physician Hero for the month of April as decreed by www.LetsRethinkThis.com.
Let’s Rethink This (LRT) discovered this unusual full-time practicing physician and late-night/weekends scribe and publisher of PO while doing an article last year on a friend and compatriot of hers, Dr. Marion Mass. By invitation, we placed that piece from our Newspaper on their website and decided to tour it and its offerings.
There is nothing like it, from thesis to execution to readership or to content. This was a definite “rethinking” of what a magazine by and for physicians should look like. It starts with stunning artwork covers by physicians (who knew they had the time? And talent?) and continues internally with biting and informative articles written about and by this community.
Advertisers? Nary a Big Pharma or Insurance Biggie in sight…and therefore little reason to be beholden to them when tough articles are called for in revealing their excesses.
Simply put, the magazine describes itself, “Physicians are leaders in medicine, but have never had a proprietary publication or platform to voice their unique and uncensored perspectives and opinions about the healthcare they provide.”
The Crying Need for a Magazine Like This
I mean “crying” in the sense that America’s citizens who have or are experiencing what it means to go through a profit-based rather than a patient-centric process in which the doctor and not the back office calls the shots.
When graduating from Med School the newly-minted physician pledges an oath to “First, do no harm” (Primum non nocere) which is increasingly difficult to achieve in a landscape cluttered by layers of bureaucracy, denials from carriers and a finance office that seeks to spend the minimum possible. The need to extract every possible dollar to satisfy Wall Street always requires that cuts need to be made in overhead.
And doctors are overhead. You either pay them less or increase their workload.
LRT has chosen to work with PO to bring out a greater awareness of this world in what we call our Searchlight (we found ‘em), Spotlight (articles and cartoons about ‘em), Ignite (pour some gasoline on their fire) process.
Our first step was to bring Dr. Wust-Smith before our cartoonist/illustrator in residence, Vic Guiza. We listened as she described her organization’s mission, how it began, the villains she has met along the way and how her publication intends to change the landscape. Oh. My. God. How can any or all of her history be faithfully captured in a graphic novel form?
Obviously, by turning all the points into a chutes-and-ladders / Game of Life portrayal as you can see in this accompanying cartoon.
If the PO website is the “Readers Digest” of what’s really going on in medicine and not that of the AMA or slick industry mags, then LRT’s cartoons are a Sunday Paper way of bringing social issues colorfully into awareness.
The decision to create PO as a print magazine was itself a response to the limits of media requiring internet savvy. It is a tangible “something” that parents and grandparents of physicians can proudly show friends. It can sit on the coffee table. It can be a companion on a flight. Most importantly, it separates PO from the competition like KevinMD and webMD.
What and who is featured and acknowledged are bipartisan healthcare reform think tanks such as Free2Care, physician activists such as Dr. Marion Mass mentioned earlier, Dr. Peter Valenzuela of Doc Related Comics, Dr. Kim Jackson of Physicians Working Together, Dr. Dana Corriel of SoMeDocs, Dr. Niran Al-Agba of Physicians for Patient Protection, Dr. Zubin Damania aka Zdogg, Dr. Diana Blum of FAIR in Medicine and so many more – all altruistic and transparent and are keen on solving problems in healthcare for the greater good – not just the greater profit.
Dr. Wüst-Smith also likens its abundant use of art for the cover and internally as paralleling the “art” of medicine. With an eye on the future and the time is right, these one-of-a-kind pieces can be converted into NFTs to be sold to lessen the need for ad sales.
So, if you care to know the real-world truth about the dangers of private equity firms and what it is doing to take over the reins of healthcare, you have found your source.
WARNING LABEL: this may result in an occasional “accidental activist” and change-agent out of its reader. You may proceed at your own risk. Or, benefit.