I wrote this article in 2013. I never reach my goal of practicing Free Medicine and I’m sure FM will never come into existent. The medical profession cannot be resuscitated. “AI” (artificial intelligence) is the way of the future and the texting generations will accept it fully.
Unfortunately. They will never establish a Doctor/Patient relationship. “ AI” will take into account many factors when prescribing a treatment course. You can be sure number one on the list will be a cost benefit ratio. “AI” will follow protocols and protocols will be created and run by its masters, the insurance industry and government.!
October 23, 2013
When I grow up, I want to practice “Free Medicine!” You may be asking yourself, “What is free medicine? Does he mean he wants to run a free clinic or give out free pills?” “Free Medicine (FM)” is a concept I just created in response to a comment from a reader on yesterday’s article. My reader is a brilliant doc, educator and writer who serves both as mentor and colleague.
Dr M’s comment pointed out the fact that primary care docs are already a medical bargain. While the world clamors over the ever-rising cost of medical care, Dr. M reminded me that the cost of seeing a primary care doc is miniscule in comparison to the cost of chemotherapy, surgery or going to the Emergency Room.
“Free Medicine” is an old idea whose time has come. FM means being able to practice medicine as it was meant to be practiced, unencumbered by governmental and insurer rules and regulations. Yes, I dream of being able to provide the individualized care my patients both need and deserve without artificial constraints, prior authorizations, codes, etc.
FM means the ability to shelter my patients’ most private problems from the intrusion of modern-day medicine’s fixation on sharing virtually everything with insurers, government workers and statisticians. While their intent may be laudable, the information amassed in “The Cloud” may be used to destroy the very health we are pledged to preserve (witness the anxiety and depression of those whose data was recently stolen from a large hospital chain).
FM opens a physician’s mind, allowing him/her to be creative in coming up with difficult to make diagnoses and treatment plans. “Best Practices” close the physicians mind, stressing compliance with “established” protocols. Heed my warning, cookbook medicine, better known as evidenced based medicine, has infested my profession and stolen our freedom to think and act as highly educated professionals.
“Free Medicine” means being a DOCTOR, not a provider, gatekeeper or service technician. FM means working for you, my patient; not corporate America. Yes, I dream of being free. I also have nightmares. In my nightmare, I am being sucked into a huge vortex, falling uncontrollably into the world of ACO bondage. I know there has to be a way out: I just can’t see it! Finally, it’s there; the door to freedom opens.
What is cost of freedom? What’s it worth to you? Will you be sucked into a world where your healthcare is provided in accordance with protocols created by insurers and Medicare or will you break free? Will I survive long enough to find my door to freedom? I pray so!
My door to freedom lies in cutting the tether that binds me to the accursed computer and its EMR. Breaking off from Medicare and insurers and starting a fee for service/cash only practice of medicine is freedom. Once again, proudly hanging out my shingle and opening my door to all that would want to come in, all that cherish their freedom, is freedom.
Primary care accounts for a miniscule amount of the cost of medicine in this country. If we were free from filing insurance and Medicare claims and free from coding and accumulating meaningless reams of data, we primary care docs could reduce our fees and do what we love best: care for you, the patient, who places your life in our hands.
Yes, I dream of the day I am part of the “Free Medicine” movement. The question is, will you join me? I can’t do it unless you think freedom is worth paying for. I cannot exit the vortex and leave all those souls I am currently responsible for to be sucked into the depths of illness without me. I am truly torn! Captains are supposed to go down with their ship, aren’t they?
“Attention on deck. The ship is sinking! All hands man the lifeboats!”