Physician Outlook

Measure a smile

Doctors’ work is increasingly judged and measured by numbers. Each mammogram, colonoscopy, and A1c is sliced, diced, and numbered. The more numbers they use, the more data they create, the more their employer gets paid. For those physicians who have the fortitude to be able to remain independent, the value of a patient's smile for taking time with them is priceless.

In this age of data, how do we measure a smile?


My work as a family doctor is judged by my numbers. Everything must be numbered. Each mammogram, colonoscopy, and A1c is sliced, diced, and numbered. Even your disease has a number.


“I’d care for you, if I had the time. But I’ve got these boxes to check.”


I’m a brilliant physician. I know that’s true because your insurance company tells me that all my boxes are checked.


They make it easy to be brilliant. All these forms show me right where to put your numbers. They even tell me what your number should be.


The more numbers I use, the more I get paid.


And watch this magic:


If I signed a form, moved my numbers to a hospital group, I’d get paid double!


Same doctor, different group, suddenly smarter! Rich and brilliant.


By the way, I chose not to join a hospital group. I’m an independent physician.


But I’m confused about the smile.


I took a little longer with you, interested in your life, and I saw you smile.


You are happier, healthier. I don’t know how to charge for that?


Could it be that there is more to healthcare than numbers? 

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