Doctors must become more business-minded

September 10, 2013

A reader tells fellow physicians they must learn to adapt to the new healthcare delivery environment.

Mark Harvey, MD’s letter (“Payers and Government Now Control Patient Care,” July 25, 2013) is full of gloom and doom that doctors have lost control and that the insurers and government are up to their old tricks.  Where the heck have you been, doc?  This is old hat, and if you go cross-eyed with the alphabet madness of new laws and bills that have been passed over the last 30 years, it’s no surprise that you are lost in the wilderness without your shoes. 

Look deeper and you will find the future of medicine.  In that same issue, Ateev Mehrotra, MD speaks about the “convenience care revolution”-how retail clinics such as Walgreen’s are taking over, and $5 billion is spent on basic care at $99 a pop. (“AAFP Fires Back at the ‘Convenience Care Revolution’ Begun by Retailers,” July 25, 2013.)

We all know about the Affordable Care Act and hear scary talk of what will be implemented and how our colleagues are fearful of losing more sleep, getting big fines, and having their Mercedes repossessed. Poppycock! No one really has any idea what will happen, but we know it won’t be good. You must stop worrying and reformat you practice.

Now is the time to become more business-minded and less simple-minded.  It is  extraordinarily important for people to stop participating in the present system and go out on their own.  Offer your services for cash, and bypass the system completely. Form alliances with your peers, and stop taking insurance and government dole. Keep only one thing in mind: operate your business from a vantage of truth, honesty, compassion, and integrity. You will fail if you do not. Stop being dependent on the system, become more entrepreneurial and get your financial house in order. Wake up, and stop complaining. Your patients will love you.

There are huge opportunities in medicine. Medicine isn’t going retail, it’s going back to basics. Medicine is indeed leaving the bloated clinics, the hospitals, the “quickie” cost centers, where we know our patients will encounter smash and grab financing and then bankruptcy. It is moving toward more therapeutic environments where access to good quality healthcare is quick, easy, and affordable.

As doctors, we have to understand that biological systems, including our healthcare system, move in unpredictable and random directions that are often broken by chaos and reformed in order. For American doctors to attempt to take back what we have lost-our profession and our rights-and to really help our patients (many of who need a kick in the pants and made to become more responsible for their health), we must adapt to our new environment. To form a “more perfect system,” we have to go through growing pains, and this is a perfect growing pain event. We have to develop new strategies to survive.

Michael J. Hall, MD, MSc

Miami Beach, Florida