Saturday, May 8, 2010

The game

To be a doctor, you must get up really early. Yes, because you need to make rounds at the hospital before the patients are awake. That way they will not be able to ask you any questions, which will take up too much time and make you late for the office. Of course you must also get to the hospital before the nursing shift changes. Otherwise the new shift of nurses will be waking the patients for vital signs. Then both the patients and the nurses taking care of them for the day will be waiting for your.

Once you arrive at your office, it is important to stay one step ahead of the patients by ordering as many expensive and sophisticated tests as possible. This will not only impress your patients but if you can own or lease the machines that preform these tests, it will increase your revenue.

Also, be sure you employ plenty of physician extenders, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, technicians, and the like. Those who can preform services that have CPT codes are the best. You can bill for these services as a source of additional income. These extenders are especially helpful when they can work in your office while you are not there. This being the case, you will generate revenue while you are away from the practice, thus helping the practice pay of itself while your office space would otherwise be idle.

Finally, get an electronic medical record with voice recognition software included. This way when you have spent 5 minutes with your new patient, you can say something like, "insert my usual review of systems" and a five page printout will result, making it possible for you to bill for a comprehensive evaluation where limited would be the case if you were taking the time to write out what you could remember discussing with the patient.

It is no secret that I played this game poorly. As frustrating as it may sometimes be, I enjoy tackling the patients questions, listening to their answers to mine, and trying to ferret out a diagnosis from the signs and symptoms as I pondered which tests might be useful and which were a waste of time (and money.) I also loved knowing the names of their kids, where they were going on vacation, and what books they would read when they got there.

After a year, it is now apparent to me why it takes me more than an 80 hour week to do what many of my colleagues consider a part time job. I hope I can always practice some type of medicine simply because I enjoy it.
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