As I look at the healthcare industry, I run into a lot of doctors that are totally fed up with the healthcare system and where it’s headed. They’ve basically reached a point where they’ve run out of bandwidth and many are ready to tap out.
I’d be less concerned with this trend if I didn’t see it across the whole spectrum of doctors. The older doctors are crying for the “good ole days” when it was fun for them to practice medicine. The middle aged doctors are trying to figure out if they have enough time to make a bunch of career changes or if they need to grind it out until retirement. The new doctors enter the workforce not realizing how screwed up the business of medicine has become. No doubt, every new doctor since the start of time has been blown away by the business of medicine, but never to the extent that we see today.
A lot of people like to point to EHR software as the real problem with physician dissatisfaction. I’ve seen some of the EHR implementations out there, and there is plenty for them to complain about when it comes to EHR. However, I think far too often the EHR takes the blame for all the other healthcare regulations that it’s required to implement. The EHR is just the messenger and it’s much easier to blame the messenger.
Think about some of the insane reimbursement requirements that exist in healthcare. Is the EHR the reason that these are so terrible. No. In fact, if the EHR didn’t have to worry about reimbursement, it would make for a much simpler workflow. HIPAA is another example. While I think HIPAA is often inappropriately used as an excuse for an organization not to do something, it does add some overhead to the work a doctor does.
Of course, we can’t talk about this without bringing up the overhead that meaningful use adds to an EHR system. Yesterday I commented that it was meaningful use that has required so much more physician time. That’s not the EHR’s fault.
Layer in things like medical malpractice risk, changing patient populations, etc etc etc to everything listed above and it’s a really trying time for a doctor practicing medicine. The single best thing we could do to change this situation would be to simplify healthcare. Unfortunately, I see almost nothing out there that’s heading this direction. In fact, I see the potential for it to get even more complex (see ACOs).
Has EHR software and the move away from paper to digital charts caused some physician stress? Absolutely! Is it the only reason physician bandwith’s tapped out? Definitely not. Props to all the physicians out there that are grinding through this mess and still provide amazing patient care. Knowing how many great physicians there are out there gives me some hope that we’ll find ways to improve the situation.