This weekend during my brilliant first podcast Heroes In Healthcare that will never be heard because of a corrupted file, I posed this question to Dr. Haji “I often tell my colleagues- doctors and APPs- that they have the power and the right to do what is best for their patient, to slow down and silence the voices of the higher-ups who demand more patients and more revenue. What advice would you give to someone who wants to disrupt the status quo and on the verge of being a hero, but is afraid to do so?” She said she loved that question and she talked about the need to go within and start practicing self-care as a way to create the energy and ability to take care of others. I wish I had her exact words, they were perfect and inspirational, as was everything she said.
This is something that I’ve been saying for years. I’ve pleaded with my supervising doctors to take control of their own healthcare system by creating a space to do what is best for the patient. Sometimes I told them to start a direct primary care practice, where they cut insurance companies out of the equation or I tell them that they can spend more time with their patient and charge a fee outside of co-payment. Then in the corporate clinical world, I tell my colleagues to take the time they feel is needed with each and every patient. If they’re there for cold that takes five minutes to see, do that, but if they’re there for anxiety or a broken heart, then sit and listen, offer a safe place for them to be vulnerable understanding the connection between the mind and body and the need for human connection.
I get it, I really do. I spent about five years of my practice running through patients like that I Love Lucy episode where she and Ethel are working in the chocolate factory and the conveyor belt starts going too fast and they start stuffing candy in their mouths, down their shirts, under their hats. This doesn’t work for anyone, even revenue, honestly. Most offices, corporate and privately owned, are in the red. But it especially doesn’t work for patients, the ones we were trained to serve, the ones who need it the most. It is also for us. I feel better when I get to really help a patient, even if it’s just to make them laugh, give them a hug or an open ear. My mood improves and I heal each time I get to do that.
The conveyor belt, factory type medicine can slow down with your insistence and intention. If one provider slows down and others follow suit, administrators will take note. Yes, it’s scary, yes your job safety is at risk, but there will always be an opportunity for you as long as you have a license. Dr. Haji said that we’re a scarce resource, as licensed medical professionals and we therefore truly have the power to change the system when administrators come at us with demands on our practice. Granted, I may have a proven system that works and makes patients feel like they’ve spent hours with me that I will share with you, but honestly it’s not rocket science. It’s back to the basics folks. I can tell you that I can spend two hours with one patient and still see plenty of patients in an 8 hour period and make them all feel like they’ve received quality care.
Let’s do this y’all. Let’s challenge the status quo and be the provider champions our patients need. Our healthcare system has to change and it’s within your power to take the first steps.