Like many of you I've recently taken some time off to enjoy and reflect on the most American of holidays, July 4th. Despite the politically charged climate and other social and economic challenges we currently face together as a nation, the United States offers physicians a combination of opportunities and resources that are hard to duplicate anywhere else.
1. American doctors have unmatched professional resources.
The United States provides the modern physician and her practice with a good supply of educated and well-trained healthcare workers and great external support and resources as well. Very few countries have the large number of specialized and well-trained lawyers, accountants, marketing experts, coding and collections teams, compliance managers, and all the others we take for granted. Add to that our exceptionally well-developed CME system, peer networks, and low-cost or free resources and expert information provided by Physicians Practice and its affiliate publications, and the extent of the support available to all doctors who make an effort to take advantage of these resources becomes clear. Very few other countries can compete with the U.S. in these areas and many turn to our materials and standards for this help.
2. America loves a winner.
By this I mean that Americans value ethics, service, and excellence; and this gives you a chance to compete on a relatively level playing field by running the best practice you can. Sure, there are always competitors with bigger offices and budgets, but it's been my experience that even small practices with committed and passionate owners and managers can still retain a loyal patient base and thrive and grow. We are a culture that values people, relationships, and results.
3. We have an infrastructure that supports business and progress.
Yes, we've all seen the reports about our aging roads, bridges, etc., and we probably can all name one specific example in our own town. That said, the availability of regular and dependable mail, Internet service, dependable sanitation, power, water, untainted drugs, labs and diagnostic facilities that turn around results in mere hours in an affordable way, and the protection of first responders are just a minute example of things we all take for granted in this country. Those of you that may have been born outside this country or who have traveled internationally understand that these are advantages not enjoyed by the majority of the people on this planet. How would you like to be running a practice in Greece this week?
4. We generally follow the rules.
The rule of law provides protection and predictability in many areas that other countries still can't offer. You have the protection and guidance of laws in many areas that are meant to protect you, the public, and your employees. Your property is yours and you can use the law to make sure it stays that way, and to limit the unreasonable claims of others, and to protect your own rights. We also have the protection of the rule of law ensuring that all of our citizens have equal protection and freedoms, in areas ranging from consumer protection laws that enforce professional licensing and prosecute those who act recklessly or fraudulently to simple issues like preventing the public from being exposed to counterfeit drugs — a problem that plagues millions of doctors and patients worldwide.
Sure, there are examples of bad actors and criminals in every city and state; the difference is that we have the resources and a system to deal with and actually prosecute them. The United States allows us the freedom and stability to make long-term plans for our businesses, families, and futures relatively free of threats from roving drug gangs, the collapse of our currency, mass civil insurrection, civil war, and countless other issues that billions of people in other parts of the world (some right next door) currently face every day. Are we perfect? No, we never will be, but we strive to be, and have a massive team of local and national civic and professional leaders that are working to protect and better us.
I couldn't possibly address all the things that make America great for you and your patients in a single column, and of course we have many issues that need improvement and reform. But, the thing that gives me comfort (and what I hope you choose to focus on today), is that we have the will, freedom, and resources to so improve our personal circumstances.