Physician Outlook

Making Medicine Make Sense for You


So much has happened to medicine in the last five decades. It once was the relationship between physician and patient. Today, politicians, lawyers, and other interlopers have undermined such a sacred relationship. It is time to get together and find solutions to change it back.

Simple question: Why do you do what you do?

I remember when medicine was completely different than it is today. Granted, I was a kid in the late 70s but my gut tells me that it was a completely different ballgame back then. My second hand experience might have seen a much more personal side of medicine than many physicians do today.

My earliest memories were shadowing my father (actually working on my coloring book by the nurses’ station) while he was moonlighting in the ER at the hospital 3 towns down the road.

When I made it to elementary school, my paradigm shifted because I thought it was normal to have construction crews in your basement, turning it into a medical clinic, and to live in a bedroom, eight feet above the waiting room of that late 70s era, rural medical clinic. Apparently none of my classmates shared this experience.

Indeed it was a different time. For the first 20 years of my life my father successfully fended off HMOs and managed care plans as he and his amazing staff happily served a predominantly blue collar, rural patient base.

Today, as a middle aged adult, it grieves me to see how much HMOs, managed care, politicians, lawyers, and other interlopers have undermined the sacred relationship between a doctor and a patient. Especially as physicians are increasingly over-regulated and boxed-in with systems that interfere with that relationship and the time margin needed to gain fulfillment from those interactions.

My desire is to find solutions, even at the risk of being “out of the box.” If you’re willing to consider recognizing and looking beyond the perceived limits of your own box, please join me in asking yourself a few questions:

1. Systems Design: How can we solve these affronts to the patient-physician relationship from a sustainability perspective? Do physicians need to repeat similar conversations with different patients? Or could physicians’ interactions be scaled in a way that favors physicians while benefiting patients as well?

2. Social Learning: Is it possible to reinvent one’s patient base as a learning community or “tribe,” each having the optional opportunity to pursue their own health goals in a supportive environment? Can we acknowledge - and postpone for now - the HIPAA discussion?

3. Data Analysis: Where are the pain points? What are the key performance indicators and other metrics that point to those pain points that group practices, solo, and cash clinics, know that they are facing right now? Where are the most painful, costly, known issues that can be solved?

Candidly, these ideas and ponderings are moot without your insights. My desire is to hear from people just like you. People who are in the place where my father was many years ago. Whether you are a direct-pay clinician, group practice partner, hospitalist, specialist, or in the c-suite, you have something significant to share. Whatever your role, these principles can be adapted to help you step out of your box, to help you think about the practice of medicine as a system that can be optimized for the betterment of the physician-patient relationship.

I hope you consider joining us for a future roundtable where we will explore real-world case studies and solutions to these issues. Look for an announcement from Physician Outlook founder, Dr. Marlene Wust-Smith, to find out more. 

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