I found Julie Barnes “Health Care Predictions: 2024” in CORRelations to be one of the best reads I have had in a long time. That post hits three of the biggest disruptive trends in medicine:
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Modernization of heath care technology
- Reimbursement changes.
The massive consolidation in health care that is occurring in many parts of the country is alarming. Regulatory trends in EHR and the existential threats to physician reimbursement are only growing in magnitude. I’ve shared my concerns about the harms of private equity in health care elsewhere (here and here), so I won’t reiterate them here.
Although not all orthopaedic surgeons are interested in these topics, I think if you’re in practice you need to be. They will affect our ability to care for patients far more than the latest implant design or surgical technique.
Orthopaedic surgeons are facing “death by a thousand paper cuts" (see here and here), and too many of us do nothing more than complain about it in the surgeon’s lounge. Engage with your Board of Councilor Representatives and your state orthopaedic association. Become passionate on at least one policy topic. Get to know your local political leaders and certainly your member of Congress. Learn about these topics and make your voice known in whatever arena you can be heard.
Too busy for that? Consider what happens if that’s the stance you take: Consolidation diminishes physicians’ abilities to work in other healthcare models and decreases our influence in the overall healthcare system. EHR changes drive increasingly burdensome tasks to your workflow every day, and artificial intelligence results in patients coming in less-well-informed than before. Physician reimbursement will continue to decrease under massive budgetary pressures while other constituent groups more effectively lobby for ever-decreasing federal resources.
You’ve got choices about how to play this. I believe that complaining to your colleagues over coffee between cases is the least-effective one.