When I met one of my colleagues as he was greeted with ( Happy Doctors Day), he replied, what is so happy about it? He went on and explained that he saw recently about 50% of private practice physicians gone!. They sold out their practices since they could not survive the rising operational cost to run their small businesses with ever decreasing revenues to the point that they had to sell out their practices mostly for Hugh losses. He added there is more than 65% of physicians are suffering from ( burnout syndrome) as they work so much harder for less revenue , more regulations, mountains of bureaucratic paper work that is using up their precious time that should be focused on one thing, which is taking care of patients!
Physicians see themselves loosing autonomy to make appropriate decisions for the care of their patients as so many of them became employed and they have to do what they were told to do if they want to keep their jobs. As they go through daily uncertainty if they were going to keep their jobs or going to be replaced with lower pay personnel ( physician extensors) as cost -saving measure by the employers!
Even thousands of the employed physicians were terminated instantly and a lot of them did not even know about it and why and you can imagine the devastation to those physicians and their families.
According to recent surveys, more than 50%of physicians will not recommend their kids to become physicians, as the very demanding life style being on call, long hours of work , so many years of medical school and training and of course the big student loans to name a few. The myth about doctors making big money has been gone when CMS , the Center for Medicare Services published online the different pay scale categories , showing the top earners were the CEOs and Administrators , and the physicians came in the least earning category, although they control 100% of the healthcare expenditure. Additionally, physicians have lost much of their ability to express their concerns in fear of being labelled as ( disruptive physicians and risk to loose license to practice medicine)!
You may add, he explained the rising of Retail Medicine by big companies which will end up hiring mostly Nurse Practitioners rather than physicians for bottom line profitability. You can forget about innovations and Entrepreneurship which made America lead in the world as many physician practices continue to close and physicians are pushed to either earlier retirement or simply give up and get consumed only about their livelihood !
All this is taking place at a time when we are suffering from big shortage of thousands of physicians with more baby boomers needing healthcare services, although some proposed Tele Medicine to be the answer to physician shortage which is not realistic. To make things worse for the remaining practicing physicians especially in the small and medium private practices have to get ready for the ICD9 to ICD10 conversion anticipated to take place in October this year, only few months away with some earlier reports predicting that claims denial rate by CMS could reach 100% with Hugh IT issues as the control of tremendous amount of health data by various IT vendors with only big vendors dominate and the small IT vendors helping small physician practices will crash, HIPPA issues and others , which will have additional cost burden estimated to be tens of thousands of dollars coming at a time of anticipated interruption of payments , see who is going to survive that double whammy!
After listening attentively, I started asking my colleague to first take three deep breaths with me slowly in and out to help relax and then I wanted to share with him the bright side of choosing Medicine as a Noble profession with acknowledging all the current challenges facing physicians, especially those in small private practice who traditionally delivered most of the healthcare services to patients over the years .
I told him that there is always going to need for Physicians , no matter what anyone says!, and that patients are always looking for that caring and compassionate doctor who delivers healthcare efficiently. Also patient value those qualities in the doctor caring for them and they do not mind paying for these services . Additionally, there is always going to a need for the human component of healthcare , no matter how fancy the digital medicine and technology apps get. There is always a golden rule if you do what is right and ethical , you are going to do well as a physician .
I added , if you or any other colleagues are looking for a dignified model for the practice of Medicine, then it will be the Direct Care Model or Third Party- Free Medicine where is a trust by the patient that their doctor will do his or her best for the patient and doctors honors and respects his patient to deliver the most valuable service( health). I always encourage young students to go to Medical School if they have the passion and calling for this great profession to be able to serve and help people. If you do that then you will enjoy both on professional and economic aspects , you may not make tons of money , but you will have enough to live well.
So Please, if you see your doctor today , tell him or her ( Happy Doctor Day)!