As I sit here in a medical innovation conference – I find myself becoming more and more angered by one of the speakers. A man with an MBA and fancy title from PriceWaterhouseCoopers is lecturing us about how doctors are essentially money-grubbing, change-resistant, quality-care avoiding “pains in the you-know-what,” obstructing progress in healthcare reform and blocking technology adoption.
His lack of understanding of the complexity of medical care was breathtaking. And yet, he expresses a sentiment that I’ve witnessed all too many times. Here are a few choice quotations:
“Doctors only make money when you’re sick, so they have no incentive to make you well.”
“Tell me two things about a doctor, and I’ll tell you what kind of medicine he practices: where he went to medical school, and what year he graduated.”
“Doctors never change how they practice medicine. They get into a routine and never innovate or adopt new approaches.”
“EMRs will dramatically improve the quality of care provided by doctors because when we aggregate all their outcomes data, we can pay for value and incentivize them to to the right thing for patients.”
As I typed out my responses to each of these statements, I realized it might be better to have you readers respond instead. Yes I just deleted a large chunk of text!
It just makes me incredibly sad to think that the noble profession that called me to serve the sick and suffering is being trashed so regularly by speakers at medical conferences. As I make house calls with my primary care partners in rural Virginia – we take delight in binding up wounds, offering vaccines to shut-ins, and providing medicines to those in need. There may be 18 years difference in our medical school graduation dates, but Alan Dappen and I both use UpToDate to inform our practice decisions, and we consult with one another and our patients about what next steps would be best for them – to keep them healthy and thriving.
I know that we care deeply about our patients’ wellbeing, and we don’t need any incentives to do right by them. I bet that’s true for most PCPs, because medicine is still a calling.
But with attitudes and approaches espoused by people like Mr. PWC’s becoming more common, I bet that fewer and fewer people will heed the call.
What do you think?