Freelance MD, a community of physicians that gives you more control of your career, income, and lifestyle. Join us. It's free, which is a terrific price. Grab Some Free Deals

Freelance MD RSS    Freelance MD Twitter     Freelance MD Facebook       Freelance MD Group on LinkedIn      Email

Search Freelance MD
Sponsors

2nd MD Special Offer

ExpedMed CME
Medical Fusion Conference

Medvoy Society of Physician Entrepreneurs

Newest Nonclinical Physician Jobs
Thoughtstream
This area does not yet contain any content.
Navigation
Nonclinical physician career, income & lifestyle.Freelance MD is an active community of physicians that gives you greater control of your medical practice, income, and lifestyle, even if you’re clueless about where to begin and you’re already working 80 hour weeks. Join Now For Instant Access To Members Only Content & Downloads. It's free!
 
Thursday
Jul122012

Physicians Who Feel Relevant

I'm always surprised at the number of physicians I work with who worry about, discount, or do not see their relevance outside of clinical practice. I do, of course, recognize their relevance - the trick is to get the docs to.

For many physicians, venturing into positions of leadership, becoming a Department Chair, VP Medical Affairs or even Chief Medical Officer) is a logical step for those looking to expand their skills and take on new responsibilities that grow their career.  The physicians that pursue these roles have obvious relevance in this arena, particularly when they bring the years of relationships and their history with the hospital into the role.

But for docs actually leaving the familiarity of the hospital environment, the fear of being irrelevant seems to be a common (if not typically expressed) theme.  Many physicians worry that while they have developed very deep skills and expertise, their repertoire is relatively narrow, and this makes them fear that they lack the requisite skills to be successful in the non-clinical world.  For most, this is simply not true.

Physicians come to the table with a myriad of transferable skills, as well as a wealth of needed knowledge and expertise.  Many times organizations are hungry for what the doctors have to offer, and for the value that they provide.   

In my experience, one of the best parts of working with physicians interested in non-clinical pursuits has been accompanying these intelligent, creative and energetic professionals as they realize that they have a lot more to offer - and are more in demand - then they ever thought they would be.  

The truth of the matter is that you, as a physician, bring years worth of skills and experience that can position you to be a tremendous value to organizations that lack your unique combination of ability and expertise.  Value comes in the form of younger docs with years of disciplined schooling under their belts and a willingness to "jump in", or mid-career physicians who have enough experience to know what they didn't know in the beginning (and how to use that for the best outcome), or seasoned docs that bring decades of experience and perspective with them into their role.  

Many of the physicians I know that have transitioned completely outside of medicine into start-ups, biotechs, or pharma companies often remark that they cannot believe the organization functioned without a doc in their role.  It gives them a window into the need for physicians' skills and knowledge base outside of clinical work, and how they can impact many more lives than they would seeing patients one-by-one.

They feel validated.  And indeed, they feel relevant.

Saturday
Jun162012

I'll Bet You Know a Few Almost Psychopaths!

Almost a Psychopath?

One of the things that I've been spending a lot of time working on this past year is a series of books on subclinical symptoms in mental and behavioral health. This series, called The Almost Effect is already changing the way a lot of people think about mental health. The idea is based in solid science and an understanding of how both physical and mental abnormalities occur on a spectrum--from nearly imperceptible to quite severe.

The first book, Almost Alcoholic, has been adopted by colleges and universities in peer to peer substance abuse training and many other programs. It has also been the topic of a lot of buzz on the internet with people wondering just how much alcohol is too much. (Answer: read the book!)

The second book, Almost a Psychopath, has been getting a lot of press with many of the reporters saying that they didn't realize just how many "almost psychopaths" they knew. (Hint: the number of subclinical psychopaths in the U.S. is approximately equal to the combined populations of Texas and New York!!). An easy way to consider whether you might be dealing with one is if you've been asking yourself, "What was THAT about?!"

In an interview with the authors, Emily Rooney of WGBH asked them some questions about the infamous Clark Rockefeller who is on trial for murder in California. The authors elegantly side stepped these questions (Consider: ethical issues are important if you are a physician who publishes a book--to see how these authors handled Rooney's questions, watch this TV clip of the Greater Boston).

This is an exciting new series of books, and definitively demonstrates why publishing is not dead. In fact, there are many doctors with incredible expertise and extremely important information to impart. If you are one of them, consider how your work and your message might be published as a book.

Saturday
Jun162012

I Have Fallen In Love With Patient Care Again

What I love to do is encourage patients to get more involved in their medical care and their well-being by easy to use methods that have great impact.

Yes, it's true. I have for a long time loved the practice of medicine. A few years into practice, I realized the importance of my role as a primary care and the tremendous impact I have on my patients. I started practice post-residency with one of the hardest group of patients (in my opinion) working for the country health department. I knew that if I survived beyond my first year at the health department, I could pretty much make it anywhere, so I set my mind to make a difference and stick to principles of healing, health and well-being all the while, also practicing the art of medicine. Some days were a big challenge but it was a great experience. In fact, things went so well -- I lasted 6 years there making a huge impact on the lives of the patients I served and they in the same way, making an impact on me.

From there, I went into private practice which was also a great learning experience. Only thing, though, was I felt that I was on a hamster's wheel, expending so much energy into providing care for my patients but not seeing the corresponding on my investment because of decreased re-imbursements, malpractice insurances, taxes and overhead and the typical other things that needed to be paid. I knew after few years of doing this that if I continued things this way, the joy of medicine will be snuffed and sucked right out of me. So I had 2 options. One was re-evaluate if I wanted to continue with the profession or choose some other nonclinical path....(but I really liked patient care), OR create a way in which come decreased re-imbursement or overhead or salaried position or whatever, I was financially to do what I really loved. 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun132012

A Surgeon’s Nightmare- The Other Side Of Medical Tourism

Medical TourismGuest post by Samuel Bledsoe MD

There is an element of a gamble inherent in the medical tourism industry as it currently exists.

An interesting thing happened to me at work the other day.  It was Friday afternoon, and I received a call from a primary care doctor. The phone call began with, “I’m really sorry about this, but I have a surgeon’s nightmare in my office.”

This is not a good way to begin a conversation.

He began to tell me about the patient. This particular woman had a Lap Band placed several years ago. For one reason or another, she decided that she would like this converted to a different procedure. She drove by my hospital to get to the airport, hopped on a plane and flew over hundreds of other well-qualified bariatric surgeons in order to reach a surgeon in Mexico where she had her Lap Band removed. She then returned 6 months later and had a sleeve gastrectomy. This is where things go bad.

The patient developed a leak from the staple line on her stomach after the procedure. She was taken back to the operating room for her third procedure where she was washed-out and large drains were placed. Amazingly, four days after the procedure, she was released from the hospital with the large drains still draining gastric secretions, a feeding tube in her nose, a prescription for oral antibiotics, and instructions to find a bariatric surgeon where she lived to finish taking care of her. At this point, she was stable and doing well. As one of two bariatric surgeons in the community, I was asked to consider taking care of this woman.

My answer, after much thought, was a refusal. I did review this woman’s extensive medical record and even spoke with her personally on the phone to try to give her some advice. One thing she said still rings in my ears, “I thought if I had any problems I could just come back here and someone else could take care of me.” I recommended that she return to Mexico until she was well. This, I was told, was impossible. I did ask my office to attempt to find help for this woman.  After my nurse spent most of the day on the phone, talking with almost a dozen different doctor’s offices around the state, there wasn’t a single bariatric or specialty surgeon in the entire state willing to accept her as a patient. Ultimately, the best advice we could give her was to go to the local county hospital emergency room for care.

Lest I be thought of as heartless, if this woman or any other patient were sick or in dire straights or needed quick intervention, I would have treated her to the best of my ability regardless of where her surgery was performed. All doctors would do the same. But a patient who is currently stable and safe, presents a unique dilemma.  Don’t I have the right to choose them just like they had the right to not choose me in the first place?  Am I required to treat every surgical disease that presents itself to me?  Shouldn’t I be allowed to help them find a higher level of care?

On the one hand, I do feel for this woman. She will never find a surgeon who will willingly take her on as a patient.  Before she is finished, she could rack up a serious hospital bill.  Although she was doing fine at the time of our conversation, I was extremely concerned about her health. She seemed genuinely sorry about her decision to leave the country and was certainly very nice. On the other hand, this places the accepting surgeon in an impossible position. Who is better able to take care of this woman’s complications than the original surgeon? Who do you think she will sue if she decides she can’t pay her hospital bill or she becomes disabled or she loses her job, and she discovers that the surgeon in Mexico is legally untouchable?

I admit to being a little frustrated towards the presumptuousness of this woman. Did she call and ask me or another surgeon if we would help in the event of complications? Who did she expect would manage her lifetime needs of follow-up after this procedure? If I’m not good enough to do your relatively straightforward original surgery, then why would you think that I would be good enough to manage the highly complicated post-operative care that is required?

However, my biggest complaint is with the current system of medical tourism. A foreign hospital system profits from American patients, and when there’s a complication, they ship them back quickly and dump them out at the local American ER. The foreign physician is immune from lawsuits by virtue of the fact that they are out of the country. The medical tourism company that linked the patient and doctor bears no responsibility since they are simply a mediator. The foreign hospital simply washes their hands of the mess that they’ve created. It’s the local doctor, the local hospital, the local medical establishment, and the local economy that pays the high price.  And most unforgivable, the patient may pay the highest price of all. Excuse me for saying, but there has to be a better solution.

Medical tourism is a newly coined term for a very old practice.  In 430 B.C, the Temple of Asclepius was built in Epidaurus, Greece. This temple was a healing shrine where the sick and infirm would travel from all over the world to spend the night in this temple. During their sleep, the cure for their ailment would be revealed in dreams. The following day the dream would be interpreted by priests who would then implement the cure. The original Hippocratic Oath contained this invocation, “I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius… .”

The Greeks weren’t the only ancient people catering to medical tourists.  For thousands of years, pilgrims would travel to Jerusalem to the Pool of Siloam for its healing powers. The Bible notes in John 9 that Jesus used this pool as part of the healing of a man blind from birth.

Even today, there are spas, resorts, and retreats the world over that cater to the sick. In my home state of Arkansas, the city of Hot Springs has been attracting the sick and injured for centuries. Native Americans and frontiersmen would travel there for the medicinal properties found in the superheated baths. Today, thousands of people travel there every year to seek the same healing.

Many nations around the world cater to the American medical tourist. It is estimated that medical tourism siphoned around $15-20 billion dollars from the US economy in 2011 alone. Hundreds of thousands of patients will leave America in order to have their care provided to them. This trend is expected to grow between 15-20% in the foreseeable future. There are a hundreds hospitals scattered at locations ranging from Brazil to Mexico to Thailand to India that have tried to establish themselves as the “go-to” location for medical tourists.

Currently, there is an impressive list of procedures from a wide array of specialties that are offered at institutions that cater to the medical tourist. One such facility, advertises care in the fields of dentistry, orthopedics, ENT, cosmetic surgery, bariatric surgery, cardiac surgery, spine surgery, ophthalmology, oncology and fertility. This only represents a partial list of what is available.  If it’s an elective procedure and profitable, it is probably offered somewhere.

In response to a growing trend in medical tourism in bariatric surgery, the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) published a position statement on global bariatric healthcare. One of their primary concerns is a concern that is shared by many- appropriate continuity of care. This concern is highlighted by the following statement: “extensive travel to undergo bariatric surgery should be discouraged unless appropriate follow-up and continuity of care are arranged and transfer of medical information is adequate.”

Certain procedures, such as bariatric surgery, are unique in the fact that they require long-term follow-up. Also, the likelihood of short-term and long-term complications are significantly diminished with appropriate follow-up. Because of this, the ethics of medical tourism for bariatric surgery has been called into question. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20346442)  

To say it differently, having a colonoscopy or your teeth filled in India is one thing,  To have your hip replaced or your heart bypassed is a different thing altogether.

I would propose three simple solutions to this to improve the current system. First, protect the innocent.  By that I mean, the American physicians and hospital systems who get involved in complications resulting from medical tourism should have immunity from lawsuits. If you CHOOSE to leave the country for elective medical care, you should forfeit your right to unlimited medical compensation from an American physician who is simply trying to fix what someone else broke. This choice involved in medical tourism is in stark contrast to someone who becomes ill or injured overseas and has to have emergency medical care. This would be similar to Good Samaritan Laws found in many states. Second, a system accrediting hospitals and facilities overseas should be further developed. Joint Commission International http://www.jointcommissioninternational.org/About-JCI/ is one such system that has standardized and defined what constitutes adequate medical care and monitors facilities for compliance with these standards. It is the oldest such commission with 450 facilities in over 50 countries. Patients should insist that the hospital where the procedure is going to be performed be accredited by JCI or an equivalent.  Third, patients should be extremely proactive.  They should obtain or confirm insurance coverage in case of complications. They should thoroughly vet both the hospital and the surgeon. They should also ensure that there is a plan in place for adequate follow-up prior to the procedure being performed. They should also obtain copies of all medical records for their physician in their home town.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an Adam Smith capitalist to my core. If a patient believes that they can get better care or cheaper equivalent care in a foreign country, I certainly believe that they have the right to do so. But the patient, the foreign physician, and the foreign hospital system should accept the responsibility for their collective exercise of freedom and enterprise. Complications should be treated to a logical endpoint, and they should be truly stable for transfer back to their local community.  There is an element of a gamble inherent in the medical tourism industry as it currently exists. I do not believe that when the gamble doesn’t pay off, my colleagues, my hospital, my community, and I should be the only ones forced to face the repercussions of someone else’s decisions.

About: Dr. Samuel Bledsoe is a General & Bariatric Surgeon in Alexandria, LA.  He is founder of Bariatric Fuel, a company that manufactures vitamins for patients who have had a surgical weight loss procedure. You can follow his blog at www.bariatricfreedom.com.

Submit a guest post and get the word out. 

Tuesday
Jun122012

Healthcare: The Desirable Duopoly Of Doctor & Patient

Healthcare Reform Doctor - PatientGuest post by Daniel Kaufman MD

Ask any corporate tycoon what the toughest business structure to beat is, and surely they'll tell you it's a duopoly - two co-dominant institutions presiding over a market, essentially cutting out all other competitors or outside influences.

Are the two big players friends or foes? One can make a case for both. Republicans and Democrats, Ford and GM, and even Magic and Bird - all dominant duopolies that symbiotically blasted and outlasted their competition. That is, of course, until the third party showed up - the new kid on the block. Traditionally, the third party, or its potential to arise from obscurity into the limelight, has been a great offsetting entity to the status quo of the omnipotent duopoly. Just ask the Tea Party, Chrysler, or Michael Jordan. These entities, the consummate "start-ups", all served to destabilize the ruling double-team, and thus helped democratize whatever industry they were involved in. As it turns out, this destabilization, a requisite force of the free market, serves to wipe up the cobwebs of industry stagnation, and create new avenues and vectors for ingenuity and prosperity. But not all third parties share in this benevolent intention. Some third parties have done the exact opposite. 

It might sound like blasphemy coming from a libertarian, whose inherent belief system is governed by the ultimate aspiration for democratization and equalization of opportunity; but, we need to reinstate the desired duopoly in medicine: the Doctor and Patient. Since the dawn of humanity medicine has always been a two-person dance. An elegant, professional, distinctly intimate interaction guided by altruism and professionalism on the doctor's part and self-preservation on the patient's part. This exchange of privileged professional services, the provision of healthcare from doctor to patient, does involve, however, an economic exchange as well. This is where the vultures and hyenas of society smell the blood. They’ve noticed something: an opportunity for profit and control. Insidiously, the third party of medicine, be it commercial healthcare insurance companies or government-run programs, has been let into the doctor's office, and predictably, has done nothing to improve quality or cost of healthcare. Third party payers have so entrenched themselves into the healthcare system, that they no longer serve as a typical “insurance” entities, but now serve as all-powerful administrators and “approvers” of medical care. The healthcare insurance industry is no longer used only for coverage of catastrophic events, but is now “approving” CT scans, X-rays, mammograms, and blood work, to name just a few. They’ve also been deemed authoritative enough to decide whether a procedure is “medically necessary”, all without ever meeting the patient. Now, how does this make any sense?

Patients need to realize that their healthcare insurance carrier is not in the business of caring – they are in the business for profit. Corporate medicine, that is healthcare controlled and administered by centralized, detached, omnipotent bureaucrats, ultimately leads to a frustrated and powerless workforce – the doctors themselves. Ultimately, the very people delivering healthcare are driven out of the business, both materially and spiritually. Now don’t get me wrong, one mustn’t blame the corporation for being a corporation. It is, after all, acting in its own best interest and well within its moral imperative. Profit drives it, and that is good. But the ballooning administrative control that third party payers have achieved has hardly contributed to an improvement in the quality or diminution of the cost of healthcare. In fact, this burdensome control only siphons money out of the system, away from doctors and nurses and towards middlemen and pencil-pushing bureaucrats. The federal government’s solution to the problem, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has an even worse track record than private entities. Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement fees are so abysmal (perpetually controlled by the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula) that many doctors can't afford to take care of those patients, ultimately decreasing access to quality healthcare. Insolvency is all but an inevitability, and sooner or later, the system is headed for complete collapse. Dr. Milton Friedman once reiterated: “there's no free lunch” - to mean that nothing in this world is for free. Not any product and not any service. Sadly, medicine, as we know it in 21st century America, has become the last bastion of serfdom. A virtual expectation that, at times, the doctor work for free. It is, after all, a profession born of altruism and compassion….

So, how do we fix the problem? Let us reestablish basic principles. Let us return medicine back to its free market roots. But let’s not ask narcissistic, corrupt, temporary politicians to do this by legislative fiat or decree. Let’s just do it on our own. Let us not accept the status quo of the insurance healthcare fraud. Let us unshackle ourselves from their administrative hegemony and price point controls. Let us be sovereign, willing agents of the free market. Let us rise and fall by the merits of our professional actions and demeanor. Let us educate and empower our patients to act as their own advocates and take the fight to their insurance carriers. Let us get all the pretenders and imposters out of the doctor’s office. Let’s restore the fiduciary relationship between doctor and patient, and get back to the desirable duopoly.

About: Dr. Daniel Kaufman is a Board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon and a Surgical Facility Inspector for American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities. He is the founder and medical director of Discreet Plastic Surgery, PC, with offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He blogs at Medical Spa MD.

Sunday
Jun102012

US Health Care vs. The World

This cart presented without editorial comment.

source: National Geographic

Tuesday
Jun052012

Hello Doctor. I Wouldn't Hesitate To Sue You

nonclinical medical malpracticeGuest post by Dr. Mandy Huggins

How many times during your day does the specter of a malpractice law suite rear its ugly head?

“I wouldn’t hesitate to sue you.”

"I’m sorry, what?"

That is what I heard from the mother of one of my patients. At the time, I was only 2-3 months into practice, and I was evaluating a high school athlete who had recurrent stingers and a possible episode of transient quadriparesis . I wasn’t on the sidelines for these injuries, so I had to go on the reports given to me by the athlete and the school’s athletic trainer. However, with that information, I did not want to clear this player to return to football until I could be certain he didn’t have cervical stenosis or any other abnormality that might put him at risk for permanent damage if he suffered another neck injury. I told the athlete and his mother that I needed to get an MRI of his cervical spine in order to determine this. The athlete was understandably upset with my decision, but his mother supported my decision to proceed with caution. She explained to me that if her son played again, sustained another injury, and something “bad” happened, she would be more than happy to take legal action against me.

Fantastic.

First of all, I can’t say that I would blame her for being angry (at the very least) if I screwed up. But to tell me in my office, to my face, that she’s already thinking about suing me? I found that ridiculous. I must be in the minority, however. If you Google “how to sue a doctor,” an abundance of information follows. There’s an “ehow” on the subject, and even CNN offers an opinion.

I’m sure many can offer some anecdote about how a physician did this or that wrong, and I agree that there are some bad apples out there. That’s not the point of this post. The point is, way too many people are looking, just waiting, for something to happen to they can “get theirs.” It’s disappointing, and quite frankly, very scary. I didn’t go through a lifetime of education and training to doubt everything I do for fear of a law suit. I’m lucky; my specialty is non-surgical and rarely deals with critical health issues. But I’m hardly in the clear. A 2011 study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that by the age of 65, “75% of physicians in low-risk specialties had faced a malpractice claim, as compared with 99% of physicians in high-risk specialties.” So I have a 75% chance, give or take, that I’ll be named in at least one claim during my career. Of course, not all of these claims go to court and/or end up with the plaintiff being awarded, but you can see how frequently patients are quick to take action if they think they’ve been wronged.

I’ll continue to do what I’ve been trained to do – practice good, evidence-based medicine, communicate well with my patients, and document the you-know-what out of everything. But at the end of the day, the fear of a malpractice claim, valid or not, will always be in the back of my mind.

About: Dr. Mandy Huggins, MD is a sports medicine physician who practices in south Florida. She is board certified by the ABPMR and holds an added certificate of qualification (CAQ) in Sports Medicine. Learn more about Dr. Huggins at http://www.drmandyhuggins.com/

Submit a guest post and get the word out. 

Join Freelance MD

captcha
Freelance MD is an active community of doctors.

All rights reserved.

LEGAL NOTICE & TERMS OF SERVICE