It doesn’t matter where you sit on the fence regarding the state of the US healthcare system, there is no denying that for many people, both professionals and patients, the system is broken and is letting down the most vulnerable people by not making healthcare affordable.
While this is a more sweeping generalization of what’s currently happening in US healthcare, what can’t be denied is the impact you as a physician can have and what these challenges mean to you.
Time Magazine published that over 70% of Americans feel failed in some way by their medical care provider, which is currently one of the biggest obstacles facing the medical sector.
But recent news aside, there have always been challenges that have affected a doctor’s ability to operate, whether it’s running their own practice or working for a conglomerate; knowing what issues you might come up against can help you to protect yourself and your interests and improve what you do and how your actions are received by those you have dedicated your life to helping.
A poor reputation is hard to come back from, especially in an age where cancel culture is seeping into people’s consciousnesses. Whether you have made mistakes personally or it’s the company you work for, the hospital you operate in, or a personal association, you need to rectify this immediately and start doing damage control.
There is an online reputation management for doctors service that you can use to help you repair a bad reputation and improve your image. However, your best course of action is to avoid drama, conflict, and anything that can tarnish your good reputation.
Increased Admin Burdens
Physicians are facing more extreme levels of paperwork than ever before and are at risk of drowning under these obligations. However, admin is an essential part of the job, and falling behind with your paperwork can lead to grave mistakes, from misdiagnosis to being unable to collect payments, incorrect test results being given, and so much more.
You are opening yourself up to a world of liabilities if you don’t keep on top of your admin responsibilities.
Ensure you have perfected how you undertake your admin, be it taking notes at the end of an application or setting aside block times to organize yourself; whatever works for you, make sure you do it.
Low Staffing Levels
There is expected to be a shortage of 54,000 and 139,000 primary and specialty care physicians by the end of 2033. This is only 10 years away, and currently, there are mass shortages in the sector.
Currently, this can only be expected to become a bigger problem.
But it’s not as easy as just hiring more doctors; there needs to be a complete overhaul across the board to address the reason why there is a shortage in the first place. Why aren’t people moving into the medical field?
Why are they leaving, and what can be done to stop this? While this is a national issue, it will impact each practicing doctor as their workloads increase and their working hours become extended to meet the demand to cope with a flailing number of healthcare providers.
Rising and Falling Costs
While healthcare costs are rising, studies found that, on average, from most procedures, healthcare costs were 50% higher in the US than in any other country, with a few exclusions and exceptions. Still, for private practices, rates from Medicare and Medicaid are flailing compared to their counterparts working for more prominent organizations.
Private practices struggle to get the same rate from commercial insurers and Medicare as their colleagues working for bigger hospitals due to their affiliations with them. This is leaving private practices struggling to offer the same level of care due to not being compensated fairly.
Coupled with the higher costs for performing procedures, is leaving mass disparages in the healthcare system that directly impacts doctors’ abilities to do their jobs, even in hospitals.
The costs of these procedures, compounded with wage bills and resources, mean that explicit consent needs to be obtained from health insurance companies to avoid medical businesses bucking under the weight of unpaid medical bills. As of June 2022, CNBC reported that 41% of Americans had medical debt, and over 66% of bankruptcies are caused by medical debt.
Preventable Medical Errors
A Johns Hopkins study found that medical errors are responsible for over 250,000 deaths per year, and this is the third leading cause of death in the US. This rate of medical malpractice and mistakes that likely shouldn’t have been made is fuelling distrust in the healthcare system and causing all physicians to face a barrier when it comes to building trust with patients.
As more people become impacted by the severity of medical mistakes, so too will a physician’s reputation and the level of care they are able to provide. While you can strive to avoid making mistakes, sadly most doctors will make at leave one life ending or changing mistake through the course of their career.
Lack of Transparency
Cover-ups and upcoding are two massive issues in the healthcare system. This is when providers try to upcode their procedures to get more money from the insurance company.
Still, all this does is cause a tug-of-war between the two providers, and inevitably, the patients get stuck in the middle.
There is already a massive distrust of” Big Pharma” in the US, and this is set to grow as more people become frustrated with the practices that, while rampant or covered up to protect those causing the issues and a lack of transparency between doctors, billing and insurance companies will only serve to create a bigger wedge between both service providers and the patient with the patient ultimately being the loser in this situation.
Don’t be that doctor that tries to game the system or rip of insurance companies, your patients deserve better than to be used as tool to make more money from.
Doctors face a mountain of challenges each day just doing the job they are trained to. The behind-the-scenes aspect of being a medical professional can help to further cause rifts in the relationship between physician and patient, and the fundamental issues in the healthcare system show that more than ever, the difficulties faced by doctors is one that isn’t going to go away anytime soon.