What Doctors Could Do Together (Organized)

A recent commentary (recommended by one of my sons) by Eric Topol discusses how doctors could be organized to advance the practice of medicine, address the deterioration in doctor-patient relationships, and focus on the needs of patients, whereas current medical organizations are mainly focused on the business interests of medical practice.

An excerpt from Why Doctors Should Organize:

“It’s possible to imagine a new organization of doctors that has nothing to do with the business of medicine and everything to do with promoting the health of patients and adroitly confronting the transformational challenges that lie ahead for the medical profession. Such an organization wouldn’t be a trade guild protecting the interests of doctors. It would be a doctors’ organization devoted to patients. Its top priority might be restoring the human factor—the essence of medicine—which has slipped away, taking with it the patient-doctor relationship. It might oppose anti-vaxxers; challenge drug pricing and direct-to-consumer advertisements; denounce predatory, unregulated stem-cell clinics; promote awareness of the health hazards of climate change; and call out the false health claims for products advocated by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Mehmet Oz. This partial list provides a sense of how many momentous matters have been left unaddressed by the medical profession as a whole…

Because of the unique technological moment at which we live, we may not see an opportunity like this one for generations to come. We have a chance to affect the future of medicine; to advocate for patient interests; to restore the time doctors need to think, to listen, to establish trust, and build bonds, one encounter at a time. For these purposes, and in these times, an organization of all doctors is necessary. Rebuilding our relationships with our patients: that is our lane.

“Pistol Butt” Pine. Tree takes on this shape due to heavy snowfall leaning on tree at early stage. Crater Lake, Oregon.

3 thoughts on “What Doctors Could Do Together (Organized)

  1. Nope, totally wrong!!! Disclaimer, I have’t read the full article. But the the focus now needs to be on healing the healers. So many aspects about the system are making the profession full of burn out and it’s rare you see current day docs “encouraging” their kids to pursue medicine. Sure there’s plenty of patient related issues to address but that won’t fix what is leading to a very poor outlook on practicing medicine.

    • You should read more of the article –here’s another excerpt which focuses more on your concerns:

      “Doctors now face a burnout epidemic: thirty-five per cent of them show signs of high depersonalization, a type of emotional withdrawal that makes personal connections with their patients difficult. Administrative tasks have become so burdensome that, according to one recent report, only thirteen per cent of a physician’s day, on average, is spent on doctor-patient interaction. Another careful study of doctors’ time has shown that, during an average eleven-hour workday, six hours are spent at the keyboard, maintaining electronic health records…
      and yet, in all that time, the adoption of such systems never met with aggressive pushback. Similarly, doctors were unsuccessful in resisting the rise of health-management organizations, which represented only three million patients in 1970 but, by 1999, had enrolled eighty million. Intended to reduce health-care costs, H.M.O.s have mainly succeeded in shifting control from doctors to health-care-system managers. In 1992, Medicare adopted the “relative value unit,” or R.V.U., a compensation metric that takes into account the medical service provided and the expense embedded in that service. The formula’s output—currently $36.04 per R.V.U.—structurally overhauled physician reimbursement, diminishing the value of non-procedural or cognitive doctor activity. And yet the major medical professional organizations went along with the practice, helping to negotiate the rate, instead of more seriously challenging it.

      Privately, doctors feel despair about their appalling working conditions and the deteriorating doctor-patient relationship. But there have been no marches on Washington, no picket lines, no social-media campaigns. Why not?”

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