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    Here’s how physicians can impact healthcare policies

     

    After several meetings with local legislators, he felt optimistic enough to travel to Washington D.C. to meet with representatives about the issue. His experience was discouraging. He says, “scheduled meetings were cancelled at the last minute, and I felt like I had been wasting my time.”

    After two years attempting to influence policy, he says,  “I have gone back to practicing medicine the old fashioned way. I spend time on the phone with concerned parents at all hours of the night, and I take care of them as best I can—completely uncompensated. I realized that I don’t have time or energy to deal with changing the system.”

    Imagined Regulation

    Wible takes a somewhat different approach. She explains that as a self-employed physician, she sees patients in a small office and that she has decreased her overhead by eliminating no value intermediaries, who would eat away at her reimbursement. While she follows rules set by the government and by payers, her practice model frees her up from following the usual employer-designed rules that are set up to support administrative staff through physician-generated reimbursement.

     

    Further reading: Can the looming physician shortage be stopped?

     

    She says that most doctors cannot imagine following her practice model because so many layers of managers and administrators make the prospect seem impossible. But, Wible explains that she follows all real policies and regulations, has medical malpractice insurance, built her own electronic medical record system and bills payers. She just took the time to learn what the real regulations are, and found that many of the rules doctors follow are habits and not rules, and that dealing with the rules as written is an important step in terms of decreasing what doctors need to fight for.

    The Future of Medicine Should be in the Hands of Doctors

    Overall, advocating for change in the healthcare system requires personal energy and commitment. It is all but impossible to create change alone. Often, effective advocacy means reaching out to others to communicate your message and getting others on board.

    The anonymous pediatrician says that his lone efforts may have hindered his progress, while Cooper explains that her success was largely eased by acceptance and buy-in from other physicians.

     

    Quiz: How much do you really know about MACRA?

     

    Knowing the details of healthcare regulations and policies is a key factor in ensuring that the plan of action makes sense. As Wible points out, some policies are really created for the profit of the employer, and therefore do not necessarily have to remain a part of a physician’s life for his or her whole career. 

    Heidi Moawad
    Heidi Moawad is a freelance writer for Medical Economics.

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