WHY SO MANY DOCTORS ARE QUITTING
First it was the HMOs. Now it’s the Nerds.
Thanks to nerds who write computer programs for doctors without consulting doctors--and thanks to a government that insists all medical records be electronic--today’s medicine is a mess. Instead of treating patients, doctors spend patient-time staring at computers. In some programs physicians can’t, for instance, refer to the term “blood.” The nerds have decided the operative word for blood should be ostag.
Computer systems written by techs with no medical input have created an expensive, frustrating electronic hodgepodge . . . in which computers from one doctor’s office can’t speak to those in another’s, in which hospitals can’t communicate with other hospitals, in which record-keeping in every doctor’s office is currently like dealing with an ever-growing but insane octopus.
Diagnosis codes, for instance, have expanded from 40,000 to a little over half a million—with huge penalties if the systems aren’t implemented. It’s so bad now that one or two-doctor offices can no longer exist. Doctors must practice in groups, because they need several people full time just to keep the octopus under control.
Did you know that most hospitals require their doctors to create a new password every month? Tell me . . . who can keep track, mentally, of twelve different passwords a year? Inevitably, doctors have to write them down. Which defeats the whole idea.
I’m not a doctor, but I’m surrounded by them. One is my son, three are good friends, and another is a breast-care surgeon with whom I’m writing a book. Lately I’ve been thinking that America’s doctors—if they weren’t so busy—should rise up and revolt.
Somebody has to straighten out this mess.
If doctors were businessmen instead of doctors, the chaos would soon be gone. Think of aviation: when a pilot speaks to a control tower, every pilot in the world uses the same language—English. And every pilot communicates with the same alphabet: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot . . .
Think of the movies—when “color” first came out, all filmmakers began using the same technology.
And remember when Beta Max promised to be the sole means of recording TV programs? But then VCR came along and took over. Later, as a group, we moved over to DVD. But at least we’re all using the same system.
The problem is, good doctors want to practice medicine. Most are in the business because they care about people. They want to communicate with patients, not computers. If they MUST deal with computers, physicians want them to make sense. Today, few electronic medical systems make any sense at all . . . they merely waste time. So some very good doctors are giving up.
If enough doctors quit medicine, something good will definitely happen. Wait and see. There’ll be a day when nobody will hire a computer nerd unless he’s also a doctor.