According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, American doctors are growing increasingly dissatisfied with their profession. It’s not surprising considering how much the healthcare landscape in America has changed. Today, doctors are reeling from decreased reimbursements, controversial healthcare reform, government regulations, and increased paperwork and red tape, which have all contributed to the unhappiness of physicians. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There was a time about 40 years ago when no other profession was more rewarding than being a physician, and nearly every mother wanted her son to become a doctor. Today fewer and fewer doctors want their sons or daughters to become doctors.
According to recent surveys, many doctors have lost their enthusiasm for medicine. Most doctors said that the increased paperwork necessary to deal with insurance and government regulation had reduced the time they spent with patients. Nearly half said they would cut back on the number of patients they see or stop practicing entirely–at a time when millions of newly insured patients are seeking care.
This collective malaise in the American medical profession shows no signs of abating any time soon. Today’s physician is relentlessly subjected to second-guessing by insurance companies, government agencies, hospital administrators–and even demanding patients. Suddenly, everyone thinks they know better than the doctor who sacrificed half his or her life to gain the education and training needed to provide optimal care. In reality, no one knows better than our doctors.
A brighter future for you, your morale, your income, and your practice
Though it may come as a surprise to many who see only doom and gloom in the above scenario, today’s practice owner has more options than ever. Recognize that your practice is a business and understand that success requires good business acumen– either from yourself or from someone you trust–to help you take advantage of your options and navigate coming changes in the marketplace.
Savvy physicians are grouping with like-minded practitioners within their own specialties or across multiple specialties, sharing resources and reducing costs. Many are hiring PAs and NPs to extend their reach and give their patients better, more efficient care. Many are adding revenue-generating niche services–weight loss, med-spas, therapeutic massage, aesthetics and many more. Some specialists are marketing to local and regional employer groups with premier insurance plans.
They analyze their service mix and focus on their most enjoyable and lucrative cases, patients, and payors. Then they market their practices accordingly. Instead of throwing up their hands and surrendering, many physicians are standing together and fighting for what they deserve–a return to their rightful place as the most trusted authorities on all things health related.
By putting on your business hat and following new, emerging market opportunities, you can continue doing the work you love for as long as you want. By finding the right business and marketing partner, you can still achieve everything you had ever dreamed of, even if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.
Where do you go from here?
In regular private-practice medicine, happy doctors and patients are still possible despite the current conditions. You can still pick and choose, through effective marketing, the patients and case-types you most want to treat; the ones that give you the most professional and personal satisfaction. You can still market yourself–in more efficient and more cost-effective ways then ever–directly to your most desirable patients, thanks to the Internet. You can train your staff to give patients exceptional customer service that builds greater patient satisfaction. You can still make yourself and your patients happier.
You can also join a growing number of doctors who are limiting their practices to those patients who can pay out-of-pocket without insurance company meddling or discounting. Concierge medicine is one of the fastest-growing segments in healthcare.
Many doctors believe that treating fewer patients according to a concierge model will allow them to spend more time with each patient and provide higher-quality care. Many are finding greater professional and personal satisfaction.
No matter which direction you choose for yourself, strive to be happy. After all, happy doctors result in happier patients, and that’s really what medicine should be all about.
If you would like more information about marketing your healthcare practice, training your staff, managing your online reputation or connecting with the right patients, talk to a Practice Builders healthcare marketing consultant at 800.679.1200, x2001.
Nina Grant –Vice President, Client Services of Practice Builders: America’s Leader in Healthcare-Practice Success Since 1979 and Editorial Contributor for DoctorCPR.com: America’s #1 Website for Medical Jobs + Practice Resources