A few days ago, we reported on a study by the American College of Physician Executives, which concluded that many physicians are depressed, stressed and tired--in short, on the verge of burnout. We asked readers what physicians and others can do to make things easier. Here are some of the interesting suggestions we got:
"Create a six to nine month "retooling" sabbatical every seven to nine years for providers (with compensation)." - Joel Thurm
"I suggest hiring an accountant or MBA to develop a formula that calculates average net profit to the physician for each billed patient contact. Then design a fee schedule that will enable the same result but without managed care... I think it would be possible for physicians to get out of managed care, directly charge each patient less than what is now collected per visit, and come out financially ahead without losing patients." - Dr. Dave McNeil
"People must be rewarded for taking care of themselves, with lower premiums for maintaining good health, just like with car insurance." - Dr. Lynn Myer
"The standard of care in legal cases should be strictly held to be what a reasonably prudent, similarly trained physician would do. Not what the majority would do, not what a paid hostile witness would do, and not what the local doctors would do." - Dr. Bradley Logan
Still, as the ACPE documented, there's a huge amount of disappointment and frustration out there. Some of our other readers just couldn't think of anything hopeful to say:
"I am an obstetrician/gynecologist, and while I have loved caring for patients, I would probably dissuade my children from entering the profession. That, to me, is the saddest of all." - Dr. Janice Huckaby
Of course, every profession has its monumentally frustrating moments. But it seems clear that as a group, doctors are especially unhappy with their work. I wish I could say that I knew of some nifty innovation or industry trend that promises to change things industry-wide, but at the moment, I don't.
That being said, I'm a big believer in the power of physicians to change the system from the ground up over time, despite the ongoing struggle with payors, government entities and the like. In the future, look for more FierceHealthcare articles describing how doctors have taken on the system and made some changes. And if you have stories about how you or a colleague did so, I'd love to hear them. Write me anytime! - Anne
P.S. On a separate note, another reader wrote to say he was pleased with CMS's changes to Medicare payments. "By odd coincidence CMS has at long last done something about primary care docs' pay in the increase for cognitive face to face patient service just as the discussion about physician dissatisfaction was coming to a boil," writes Dr. Bill Dunn, a former primary care doctor. "Finally, some R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the doc in the trenches."