The profession of physicians relies on habits that they have created. Based on the habit they have formed cultures and hired staff that aligns with their culture. Every day, the physician and the staff rely on those habits to go through their daily routine.
Habits are difficult to change and that’s why the doctor’s first reaction is to discount it. The process is painful but needed at the current time. You must have encountered a patient in your profession who has self-diagnosed himself or herself using “Dr. Google” and they are so confident about it!
It is a fact that patients are changing and healthcare has to be treated just like any other commodity or service.
Doctors need to change or they will feel the hardship
The brain resists change and this has been backed up by significant research. The process is painful and it is much easier to hang on to the old habits thinking they will work- even when evidence indicates otherwise!
Physicians who cannot keep up with the shift in patient behaviors risk being overwhelmed and losing them. Would you rather take a knife to a gunfight?
Doctors complain and deal with issues through politics, direct pay business model, and campaign- but they really face a problem more than just revenue system and reimbursement model. The congressmen don’t help us and we rarely get the support of people and patients who are empowered at the same time. That’s exactly why we need to utilize the right strategy, technology, and innovation.
The opponents of independent practice seem to have much deadlier ammunition than just a knife! But independent physicians can rise too. Corporations have to work for them- not the other way around.
The Triangle of Medical Practice Survival
The medical practice seems to rest on three sides of the healthcare triangle- physician, level of mandates and available resources. The triangle should be equilateral and any imbalance can bring negative consequences-
51% doctors are either burned-out or abused
1 out of 3 medical personnel is depressed
400 doctors commit suicide each year
The negative consequences also include lack of efficiency, quality and patient safety. Such a system cannot work! All regulatory mandates irrespective of the intention or judgment are based on data collected through some technology. But the data can be sophisticated and waste of time because the physician doesn’t have the technology to comply with the mandates.
The healthcare community especially physicians are somewhat skeptical about the currently available resources. They are burning out more and more without embracing change. The imbalance created by excess mandates and increased workload in the face of poorly utilized strategy and technology is making matters worse.
Physicians Must Rise!
Currently, we have many groups to empower physicians. They have created resistance by forming alliances but we are still far from solidifying our demands and position. The direct pay business model and political activity may work but they are not good enough. It has formed a vicious circle which is being fought through politics, passive aggression, avoidance and useless discussions without practical actions.
Physicians generally struggle to change when it involves changing their mindset entirely- it can be transforming from fee-based care to value-based care or encountering the increased expectations of the patients. According to Andi Simon, a corporate anthropologist with 20 years of experience in healthcare and finance- it’s not a personal flaw- it’s just how the brain works!
We need to utilize the necessary and available tools to fight issues like physician burnout. Let’s see how we can address some of the issues of the medical practice triangle-
Physicians: They have to deal with their own life along with increased workload, patient life, job stress and so on. Increasing mandates or pressure without addressing the root causes will only result in burnout, lower care quality, taking shortcuts and quitting.
Regulatory Mandates: These have to be balanced with the capability of the medical community. Higher expectations don’t always lead to better results so any mandate should be created keeping current conditions in mind.
Over time physicians have adapted to their habits which gives them a comfort level from their daily practice. But the habits don’t serve them in current times- the change in medicine and patient expectations demand them to change how they do business.
Change is the Ultimate Solution
Physicians will lose their patients if they don’t change themselves according to the shift in patient behaviors! The “Generation Y” wants to be served instantly with readily available service and they aren’t loyal. They prefer an app to make doctor appointments and such Millennials expectations have become the drivers of business success!
The doctor can face many hassles- extended hours of discussion just because an older patient read something about his condition on Google! We have to make the undesirable desirable- we need to understand how to change and develop necessary skills for the process.
Solutions cannot be one-size-fits-all! We have to build confidence and achieve a lot of small wins which encourage us to change to the new and improved ways. As a physician, we need to try something different for a week and evaluate if it’s working.
“Even if 1% of independent physicians manage to empower 1% of their patients to personalize their care, politicians will have no other way than to follow their lead”
We have to embrace technology and come up with solutions that empower all the stakeholders including the patient and the physician.
“Don’t quit your job over change- learn to embrace the change”
I would love to hold more discussions and webinars on the topic if I get the opportunity.