A Physician's One Wish
In honor of National Physicians Week, The Rowe Network partnered with Physicians Working Together to initiate the #OneWishChallenge. We asked all physicians, “What is your ONE WISH for a change in healthcare?”
2016 marked the very first National Physicians Week, celebrated from March 25th to March 31st, culminating in National Doctor’s Day on March 30th (a longtime observed national holiday first celebrated in 1933). With increasing rates of physician burnout and an average of 400 physician suicides per year, National Physicians Week was spearheaded to express appreciation and renewed respect for physicians’ hard work and sacrifices, as well as to inform the public and spread awareness for patients to have a better understanding of the role physicians currently play in healthcare.
The response was inspiring and moving. A common theme throughout all responses across a wide variety of different medical disciplines was the desire for healthcare to return to its roots–to heal patients with the patient’s best interest at heart. Healthcare has become increasingly regulated by insurance companies and hindered by red tape. Today, patients are labeled as healthcare “consumers”, often working against the physicians who treat them, fighting battles with insurance, and jumping through hoops to “purchase” the product of a physician’s services. In turn, physicians feel as though they must constantly face a difficult decision: patients or paperwork?
Dr. Rozalie Jackson (Internal Medicine, Long Beach, CA) said, “There are stringent requirements imposed by insurance plans and Medicare/Medicade with regards to documentation and use of electronic health records…Physicians should instead be focused on listening to patients, maintaining more eye-to-eye contact, and ultimately establishing rapport so that we can work together to improve patient health.” Many other physicians responded that they, too, felt overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork required by insurance documentation, which detracts from “our purpose as physicians” (Dr. Jackson).
Dr. Terri Major-Kincade (Neonatology, Richardson, TX) expressed her One Wish “that the people with a seat at the table…would spend more time with the persons who are providing the care.” Dr. Major-Kincade goes on to explain, “Medicine is an art, it cannot be packaged into 15 minute increments that the insurance company or the administrators decide is all the time I have to spend with a patient to provide the best care.”
Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and the American Hospital Associate (AHA) surveyed hospitals and found that paperwork adds an additional hour for every hour of patient care. While regulation in healthcare is definitely necessary, it may be argued that excessive regulation can harmfully affect quality of care.
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway (OB-GYN, Kissimmee, FL) stated “My one wish is for us to remember, as physicians, who we are… We are first and foremost physicians…we are healers. We heal the body, the mind.”
Dr. Tracee Short (General Surgery, Baton Rouge, LA) explained, “I go early and I come home late because of what I do. I love being there for patients and their families during the most stressful times of their lives, to provide them reassurance and let them know it will be okay. Our life in medicine has changed, a lot is now dictated by people who are not medical professionals within the field.” Dr. Short then counters, “I want all patients to know that as physicians, our desire is to be with you during these stressful times…and not to be so concerned with insurance and paperwork.”
Physicians can feel overwhelmed and constrained in their profession, even grappling with work-life balance. Dr. Stephanie Freeman (Critical Care, Pearland, TX) hopes for “more flexible employment options for physicians. The traditional 9 to 5 employment model is not very conducive to facilitating work-life balance and allowing physicians to be involved in other pursuits. We all need to look into different employment models.”
Telemedicine could very well be one of those more flexible employment options. The same HMS study found that while an average in-person medical visit takes 121 minutes, the average telehealth doctor visit only takes 15 minutes (includes sign in, log in, paperwork and forms, and the actual visit).
Dr. Latisha Rowe, Founder and CEO of The Rowe Network, explains that “in terms of regulation, telemedicine is not going away, but lawmakers are still struggling to find the ‘best’ way for telemedicine to be practiced.” Dr. Rowe explains that as a new and developing field, telemedicine currently may not be as heavily regulated, and physicians have opportunity to reach more patients. “There is a Physician Licensure Compact that has already passed and is well underway. From the last time I checked, there are eight states that have adopted this Physician Licensure Compact, so you should go online and find out, are you in one of those eight states? Because if you are, you are eligible to practice in seven other states without the need, hassle, or payment for another medical license.”
Dr. Rowe feels that this is a step in the right direction. She encourages “we, as physicians, should be writing letters to medical boards to let our voice be heard. Medical boards are there for a reason; We all pay a licensing fee to a medical board to have our physician’s license. We can’t allow big corporations to strong arm our medical boards and override laws they have put in place.” Dr. Rowe states, “Telemedicine is all about improving access to care, connecting patients with the best doctors anywhere in the nation, and one day, anywhere in the world.”
The purpose of National Physicians Week is to celebrate all that doctors do. Our hope for the #OneWishChallenge was to kickstart this important conversation about the healthcare industry and break down barriers between patients and physicians. The Rowe Network is rewarding the physician whose video has the most likes on YouTube with a trip to Houston to attend The Rowe Network’s Virtual Physicians Summit, including airfare, hotel stay, conference registration, spa package, and more.
Please visit The Rowe Network’s YouTube channel to view all of our One Wish videos and cast your vote by liking your favorite video today!
Tanya Chen is the The Rowe Network Digital Marketing Manager. She can be reached at email@example.com for all business inquiries and correspondence.