Topol: Doctors Are Getting Squeezed


February 18, 2015

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I'm still seeing patients in clinic and I can attest to the fact that doctors are getting squeezed. I feel it, and I'm sure most physicians around this country have the same sense about all of the different forces that are squeezing them.

You can see all of the different forces in this cartoon that I put together.

It tells the story that medicine isn't as easy to practice as it used to be. We have to do something about this. There is a way to leverage these forces into positive forces and change what is a looming crisis in medicine, with so much disillusionment, into a much more ideal and optimistic way to practice medicine.

How do we do that? How do we go from everything squeezing doctors—limiting them and forcing them to do things that they don't want to do—to a whole new plateau of care?

The way that it can be done is by offloading, or offsetting a lot of the responsibility, to patients. Not all patients are willing to accept that responsibility, but many are. Some surveys show that 80%-90% of patients want to have their data and want to take a much more active role in medicine.

Well, let them take a more active role. That decompresses the responsibilities of physicians and lets them do what they are best at doing, which is providing treatment and healing, being great communicators, and providing empathy and guidance through all of the experience and wisdom that they have gained over time.

If we offset much of the more mundane aspects of care—things that can be done by the patient—in this new world going forward, it could create an exciting opportunity to let a partnership evolve with the patients who are willing (and obviously for those physicians who are willing) to make the practice of medicine exciting, the way it used to be before a lot of these forces came to bear.