The Doctor of the Future?
How the recent events in DC will ultimately pan out is anyone’s guess at this point. What portions of healthcare reform stand, what gets stripped or dismantled, there are some basic facts.
We are on the verge of a major dismantling of the previous 40 plus years of the doctor patient relationship by politicians and the greatest victory for health insurers, ever.
Portions of what are currently proposed are not fiscally sound. Witness 3.5 years of mandatory health insurance. Another Massachusetts Miracle. According to our commonwealths’ treasurer Tim Cahill “…we’ll be bankrupt in four years”.
Of course costs have risen with the introduction of some incredible diagnostic technologies, minimally invasive surgeries, and some incredibly life saving drugs. All of these have costs to bring to market after sometimes years of scientific triumph, testing and development.
Perhaps the most exciting thing we’ll see way more of in the next level of “disease cure potential” will be bio-tailored treatments.
But, there are also other very disturbing trends.
Lifestyle diseases still kill. Big time. Diabetes in younger patients every year. And some potentially devastating and disabling illnesses like depression, migraine headaches, chronic back pain, and a myriad of functional gastro-intestinal disorders to name just a few.
All of which are still perceived by the public at large as “normal”. Because everyone they know has one or more of them. For too many people all of us meet, if it weren’t for their med lists and doctors’ appointments, what would they ever talk about at social and family events?
Sad, but all too often true. Accepted by the mainstream, and fostered by relentless multimedia barrages as normal. Requiring the latest and greatest treatments and drugs, instead of lifestyle and personal responsibility, first.
Don’t get me wrong. We should never shy away from advancing newer effective disease treatments and cures whenever feasible.
But for those of us who have been seeing patients for a while, too often these days doesn’t it seem like there is way too much of swatting flies with a sledgehammer instead of a flyswatter, for so many of mans most common and largely functional ills?
So, where does this leave you?
Well, in private healthcare, to be financially viable and still rewarding, you’ll need to be focused on some basic trends, every day. And also be priced (and collecting) for the realities of your own future!
If you think that there is no market outside your own current daily reality, lets check out these examples. Your future in private care might just be in one of these:
Travel Medicine. Now it is a huge market to the affluent, from many countries. Combine healthcare with a vacation, sometimes the trip of a lifetime to another country for rest and recuperation.
Along the same lines, patients from may other countries “Export” their needs to the USA for the best care, regardless of personal costs.
Cosmetic/Esthetics. Still very powerful, and always will be. To the right market.
Niche Healthcare. There are big markets in all professions. Every profession is replete with examples. Dentistry and cosmetic surgeons have this one down. For lots of chiropractors, it could be (hint: likely should) condition specific care, (like neuropathy). And sub-niches (like RSD, and related painful, debilitating neurological disorders).
But perhaps the biggest reality doctor?
2 Million More “Boomers” will be introduced into the private healthcare market for their aging bodies every year, the next few years.
Still with a significant net worth and desire for fitness and quality of life well into their later years.
But, with very high levels of expectations and modern consumer options.
Private practices will increasingly demand more entrepreneurial and technology skills. Powerful marketing with the expanding usage of multi-media. Bullet-proof staff capable and willing of truly serving.
Now though more than ever, you must be the Doctor. Educator, decision facilitator, using all your skills and getting paid for them.
And Always remember, that while seeing patients, being the best doctor you can be, patients get their lives back!
You’re going to have to say more and more “Mrs. Jones, I can only be about your health…not your insurance”.
Now doc, its decision time. If you still want to be in private practice, will you be ready?
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