Let’s assume that nothing I say or do is going to change today’s medical delivery model. Assume that the qualities listed in past articles that make a physician truly great are either innately present at the time a student enrolls in medical school or that they are not part of the student’s tool chest.
Further, let’s assume that today’s employers of medical providers have no interest in teaching providers how to listen, comfort and reassure, as those traits take time and time is money. If you doubt my assumptions, take a minute to think about “telemedicine,” the newest doc in a box.
Take the time to schedule a “telemed” visit. Experience, first-hand, what the future of medicine looks like. Did the doc listen to you? He/she should have! He/she certainly couldn’t touch you, examine you or draw lab. Did you feel you were cared for? Were you comforted? Can you imagine developing a relationship with the doc on your computer screen?
I think not! So, if I’m right, what’s a person to do? Perhaps the answer is in training and developing a new type of healthcare coach, the patient advocate. There are thousands of retired physicians in the United States, many of whom would like to work, part-time, in their chosen fields. Licensure requirements, malpractice insurance and the overhead of running a business prevent most retired physicians from practicing medicine.
“Ask An Old Doc” (AAOD) could be the answer to the patient’s need for an experienced and caring advocate, as well as meeting the needs of the retired doc who wants to continue to support patients in need of advice. AAOD would employ retired physicians in the role of healthcare advocates and life coaches. While the AAOD employee would not function as an MD, his/her wealth of knowledge and experience would prove to be invaluable tools in helping individuals through whatever situation they find themselves in.
AAOD would function best as a not-for-profit organization, charging patients on a sliding scale basis according to need. Before I go any further with this idea, I’d like to hear what your thoughts are. Would you likely use such a service? What would you be willing to pay/donate to AAOD?
Here’s your joke for the day:
A mentor of mine once told me that a great way to let go of your anger is to write letters to people you hate and then burn them. Well, I did that; and I feel much, much better, but I’m not sure what to do with all these letters.