Doctors face a number of challenges. The questions benefits professionals need to ask themselves: Are doctors’ challenges aligned with today’s benefits professionals? And are there doctors out there who are concerned with disease and suffering and not just money and bureaucracy?
As an employee benefits professional, one of your many jobs is that of Population Health Manager. You’re responsible for:
- Maintaining and improving the health your employee population and their families
- Mitigating the population’s health risk
- Accomplish these goals within a budget because you don’t have infinite resources
As a population health manager, you have vendors that provide preventive care, sick care, chronic care and surgical care to your population. Those vendors are better known as doctors.
Anyone who manages vendor relationships wants to align their interests with those of their vendors. One great place to start is… the interests of doctors.
The December 25, 2016 issue of Medical Economics published an article entitled, “Top 10 Challenges Facing Physicians in 2017,” that does a great job summarizing the challenges that physicians face. It also provides insight into what interests them. Are they aligned with your interests? Let’s see.
Comparing Challenges Doctors Face – Today and in the Past
Top 10 Challenges for Doctors
- Surviving reimbursement changes
- Time/energy required for prior authorizations
- Lack of negotiating power with payers
- Remaining dedicated to medicine
- Maintenance of certification time and money investment
- Lack of electronic health records (EHR) interoperability
- Rising costs for patients
- Non-adherent patients’ impact on quality care
- Changing patient attitudes
- Effect of patient satisfaction scores
It’s interesting to note that the top five challenges DO NOT directly deal with patient care. Instead, they deal with money and administrative bureaucracy.
That’s an important point I want to reiterate: The most important challenges doctors face are: 1) money and 2) bureaucracy — NOT patient care.The most important challenges doctors face are: 1) money and 2) bureaucracy — NOT patient care. Click To Tweet
It’s also interesting to note that patients being sick with XYZ illness and suffering is not on the list anywhere.
If you polled physicians 100 years ago, what would their biggest challenges have been? Their list might look something like this:
- My patients keep dying of tuberculosis.
- I don’t have any way to treat diabetes (insulin had not been discovered yet).
- Many infants die before the age of one.
- I have patients crippled by polio for the rest of their lives.
- A minor cut infection results in needing to amputate a limb.
- Many patients are being injured in factory accidents.
- We have no way to treat cancer.
- We have outbreaks of diarrheal illness in our cities that result in death.
- We have don’t have great anesthesia, so we can perform surgery safely.
- We have no way of treating mental illness, so we just have to lock people up.
Now compare those physician challenges from 100 years ago to the physician challenges of today.
We still have major problems with disease and suffering, but why are those not the focus of physicians’ energy? For example:
- There is not much we can do for people with cerebral palsy.
- Many cancers like brain and pancreatic cancer have terrible prognoses.
- Parkinson’s Disease still progresses for most of its sufferers.
- People are gaining more weight and have the hardest time losing it.
The list could go on and on.
Aligning Your Role as a Population Health Manager to Physician Vendors
I will answer my own question by saying that there are MANY physicians for whom disease and suffering (not money and bureaucracy) ARE their daily concern. The key is to match these doctors with your employees and their families. In so doing, you will align your interests with those of your physician vendors.