While most medical decisions are made by physicians, the healthcare system rarely looks to them to drive change. Increasingly, patients and doctors are disenfranchised by the U.S. healthcare system, yet those in charge pay little attention to the players on the frontlines of medicine. Rather, they rule from their vantage point of profits and/or political agendas.
A dysfunctional healthcare system is a danger to many. Doctors are becoming incrementally burnt out and nearly 400 commit suicide every year. The loss of one doctor in an underserved can be devastating. Patients also suffer in a broken system through more medical errors and lower quality care.
Despite the fact that doctors and patients are being trampled on by the weight of this collapsing structure, few fight back or speak up. Sure, most are grumbling to whoever will hear them but no real voice is being constructed to inspire reform. Few would argue that changes are necessitated at this point and now with the election over, the uncertainty is compounded. Who is going to raise their concerns where they will be heard?
How can physicians make our voices heard?
• Speak up! This may seem over-simplified, but so many people are afraid to actually voice their concerns. Some healthcare professionals fear retaliation at their work places. Patients may fear for their very health. There are many reasons, but as long as we continue to remain silent, no real transformation can happen. If we do not speak up, we will continue to spin on the broken global structure others created for us.
• Ask others to speak up. There is power in numbers. People will not listen to a single voice. Often, doctors who speak up get labeled disruptive and others tend to avoid them. Patients who do likewise often are viewed as whiners. We need to join voices to validate our opinions and amplify our messages.
• Contact your medical societies. Many doctors no longer feel these organizations represent us and in many cases this is true. However, unless we change them, they will continue to on this same course. Force them to hear you and your colleagues. On a larger scale, people listen to these societies so it is helpful to get them on your side.
• Contact your local politicians. Send letters, emails, texts, and call them. Phone calls are perhaps the best way to make them listen to you. You probably won't speak directly with the politician, but one of their representatives. However, this is the best way to get our elected officials to hear us. Present facts and how you believe change should happen and why. Don't rant your frustrations because they won't care. Make a case how the decision you are seeking will impact voters in their jurisdiction. Go to town hall meetings when they are speaking about healthcare issues you are concerned about. Make it difficult for them to issue a new regulation that you think is not best for healthcare.
• Be a force on social media. There is no better platform for reaching multitudes of people and joining forces. Many people pay attention to what is being said on social media and it is possible to connect directly with some of the players in the decision making process. Create a hashtag for your initiative and invite others to join you. Keep it professional but strong. Avoid the trolls because when you speak strong opinions there will be some.
So many changes are being foisted on doctors that it becomes unbearable to keep up with regulations that many of us disagree with. And patients are caught in the crosshairs. Now, with a new government coming in, we don't need to be afraid of the uncertainty: we need to change it. We need to make our voices heard. The time to remain silent has come and gone and that has not worked out so well. Are you willing to be a voice in the reformation of healthcare?