I’m one of the fortunate ones. I know that now, but it hasn’t always seemed that way, especially when it came to assessing my level of career satisfaction. I experienced quite a bit of dissatisfaction in being a physician.
I recently took the Geneia Physician Misery Index and scored a 3.67 out of 5, which is just about the national average. Two years ago, my score would have been higher, likely approaching 5.
The Physician Misery Index revealed that an overwhelming majority of physicians—87% —believe that the “business and regulation of healthcare” have changed the practice of medicine for the worse. I wholeheartedly agree.
You see, I’m a late bloomer. I started college as a pre-med student, but finished as an art history major. I went on to get a Master of Arts in Art History and to work for the Art Institute of Chicago. As much as I enjoyed Art History, something was missing. I still wanted to be a physician.
So, a few years shy of 30, I completed all of those pre-med courses my peers took in college, applied to medical school, and ultimately became an emergency medicine physician. I started my career in medicine full of promise, full of hope, full of confidence that I was finally doing what I always wanted to do—heal my patients.
In our hearts, physicians want to connect with their patients in a meaningful way. We want to develop a relationship with our patients and work to solve their health issues. Yet the business of healthcare often gets in the way.
I am most frustrated by all the activities that do not support the doctor-patient relationship, such as the need to complete documentation a certain way—and perhaps redo it—because of compliance with regulations or the needs of billers and coders. This has nothing to do with taking care of the patient and may actually limit the amount of time I can spend with my patients.
Because of efforts like Geneia’s Physician Misery Index to help bring the topic to the forefront of healthcare discussions, I’m beginning to feel hopeful again. There is a growing recognition of physician dissatisfaction and more efforts to find solutions.
The Geneia Joy of Medicine Challenge is one such important initiative, asking physicians to submit their ideas for how to reclaim practice satisfaction and renew and restore the doctor-patient relationship. As one of the physician judges, I’ve had the opportunity to dialogue with the competitors. I’ve been inspired by their ideas and their commitment to reversing physician dissatisfaction.
I also have become a medical entrepreneur and am building my company at MATTER, Chicago’s newly launched healthcare technology incubator. MATTER is unique in its commitment to medical entrepreneurs like me and for its robust partnership with the American Medical Association to build an interaction studio to enable entrepreneurs and physicians to collaborate on the development of new technology, services, and products in a simulated healthcare environment. MATTER has been so successful pulling together all of the various healthcare stakeholders in Chicago that it’s hard to believe the doors have only been open since February.
MATTER is the perfect place for this formerly frustrated physician to develop my start-up, EDLoop, where I’m working to improve physician-patient communication in the Emergency Department. Using text messaging, video, and focused medical content, EDLoop leverages the waiting time in the ED to enhance care and communication, educate, decrease staff interruptions, and improve patient and physician satisfaction.
If you’re a physician looking for inspiration and physician role models who know how to bring to fruition your ideas for improving the practice of medicine, I hope you’ll join us at the June 8th Joy of Medicine Challenge Live Pitch-Off during which the three finalists will vie for the title of Grand Prize Winner. Tickets are free, but limited. To reserve your ticket, visit http://bit.ly/joyofmedicinepitchoff.
Together, I’m increasingly confident that we can kick physician misery to the curb and bring back the Joy of Medicine.