Doctor Has a Few Words for Policy Makers

Make sure that any new changes in the health care system don't contribute to physician burn-out (as most of the old changes did).

A doctor suggesting that the health care system should make things easier for doctors isn’t exactly a man-bites-dog story. But Marc Siegel, MD, a professor of medicine and medical director at Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Health, makes some interesting points in a recent opinion piece in The Hill. Siegel checks off items that have made practicing much less satisfying for physicians since the 1990s, beginning with the introduction of HMOs, “which promised more, but paid us less after our service had already been delivered.” That, says Seigel, was followed by:

  • Medicare and private insurers cutting doctors’ pay,
  • Obamacare, which put more pressure on docs to deliver the same quality but with fewer options in terms of possible specialist and hospital referrals, 
  • learning to navigate electronic health records (or be penalized) on the run, and
  • keeping up with an explosion of new technology.

Siegel says that “we soon had more options than ever before, but helping patients navigate among all these options took more and more time. Despite the need to spend more time with my patients, insurance is reimbursing for shorter visits, while the amount of time I spend documenting has increased.”

All have contributed to physician burn-out and dissatisfaction, says Siegel. He concludes that “the next round of regulatory changes in medicine needs to consider how to make things easier for doctors, which will then—by direct extension—make things easier for our patients.”