Washington has Declared War on Doctors, says Physician

April 3, 2014

Family physician Marlin Gill wrote his congressman looking for help in Washington’s “war on doctors.” His facts are correct, but his reasoning is not.

Family physician Marlin Gill, of Decatur, Ala., wrote his congressman looking for help against “Washington’s war against doctors,” and, his congressman took the letter to the floor of the U.S House of Representatives.

Great politics, a stirring floor speech for TV, and one victim and his enabler.

Gill’s opening sentence, “As a practicing family physician, I plead for help...” is probably echoed by a lot of physicians.

Another resonates with: “Doctors are smothered by destructive regulations that add costs, raise our overhead and ‘gum up the works,’ making patient treatment slower and less efficient, thus forcing doctors to focus on things other than patient care and reduce the number of patients we can help each day.”

On this, and other points such as EHRs and ICD-10, now delayed until next year or longer, and Obamacare’s 90-day “grace period” for patients who purchase plans through the health insurance exchange patients, Gill hits the mark square in the center.

We agree that healthcare cannot be run like a government bureaucracy, but, that is where we part ways with Gill in our thinking. He pleads for help as a victim seeking a return to the status quo. That is unrealistic because that ship has not only sailed, it has sunk. Deep.

Obamacare, for all of its faults, has done the nation a great service. It has exposed the real cost of healthcare in this country. It has dumped those costs on its citizens and it is becoming obvious that it tries to solve the wrong problem as the cost of healthcare continues its unabated march to consume one-fifth of the U.S. gross domestic product.

While mainstream media pundits and politicians bark and snarl across the aisle about birth control, narrow networks, and other inequities, they remain oblivious to the root of the problem that leaves $800 billion in annual systemic waste unaddressed and a population that is getting sicker instead of better.

Historically, big problems like these might result in massive profits for massive companies who solve them by utilizing massive logistical capabilities. Not this time, because the solution is not logistically based, or bricks and mortar, it is art and science performed one patient at a time working within a clinical system.

That is why this chaos is manna from heaven for physician entrepreneurs, who, in collaboration with healthcare business professionals, are the only people that can actually solve the problem.

The real money for years to come will go to those who can effectively reduce spending, first by cutting waste and then by improving health status across populations.

It is right there, today, and within grasp. The infrastructures for tomorrow’s industry giants are being built today. The winners will be those with transformative programs and information technology that can take data from those nettlesome electronic data systems and turn it into information that, properly managed, can cut costs, improve quality and keep most, if not all, of the difference. The losers will be those that try to tweak the status quo. The collateral damage will be those that wallow in victimhood whether in dying practices or as employees for hospitals that picked the wrong path.

How do you pick, or even identify the right path? Look for these things in a practice or hospital:

• A comprehensive, common population management platform that keeps everyone on the same clinical page.
• Strong, experienced, visionary management that has a history of leading.
• Next generation Patient-Centered Medical Home systems that control whole dollars instead of pennies on dollars.
• Big plans that are being implemented a step at a time.
• Management systems that enable, not repress, clinical decision making and encourage and share best practices.
• Reimbursement systems that pay fairly for the extra work it takes to do things right, and share the savings generously.
• Support systems that focus on, and provide the tools for population health status improvement from day one, because that is where savings come from when waste is cut.
• Management Service Organization counterparts that handle the business of healthcare while physicians do the business of healthcare

The best of the best will find you.