Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The enemy

I have tried to stay away from talk about health care reform as much as possible. I find the clinical aspects of medicine and the people I serve far more fascinating than those who are involved in trying to make our health care system work better. For one thing, I believe if doctors spent more time serving patients and less time worrying about how to make more money, even our current system would be a better one.

In a meeting I was recently required to attend, I saw this problem up close. Present at the meeting were several physicians who have been practicing medicine about as long as I. They were in several hospital based specialities. The discussion was not about a great new discovery in medical care which would improve quality or limit suffering. The sole purpose of this meeting was to present a new financial venture between three large physician groups and the hospital. If I could have titled the meeting, it would be: "How to get more money for those who already have too much." I say this because all of the speakers have 7 figure salaries supplemented by investments in pharmaceutical companies, device makers, and surgery centers. I was particularly thrilled to hear this group has "hired a national law firm experienced in defending against legislation which makes [ventures such as this one] illegal."

Please understand, I see many problems with pharmaceutical companies, insurance carriers, and hospital systems. Yet, when our brightest, most energetic physicians are rushing to get an MBA and become managers in these new business rather than spending their energies in direct patient care, something is wrong with the profession. It also explains why my primary care colleagues are selling vitamin supplements and preforming LASER hair removal to supplement their office income.
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