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Fixin' Healthcare

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Boutique Doctors

The current state of healthcare in America is creating a high level of frustration. The complaints and concerns have been answered and the responses are revealing.

Boutique doctors are practitioners who limit their number of patients in return for increased fees or retainers. Patients do not have to wait and the visits with the doctor are longer. The physician income usually increases, the insurance companies may not be involved with the encounter and life is less hectic. Although patients may receive better care, this is a convenience and financial arrangement with medical and health objectives secondary.

Some speciality physicians have established free standing centers containing the technology they utilize. The technology is usually available elsewhere in the community but it may not be as convenient for the physician or the patient. If there are medical and health objectives, these are secondary to convenience and financial considerations.

Hospitals have developed more private rooms, provided valet parking and arranged champagne dinners after birthing. They have deployed increasing levels of technology and promoted increased utilization. Hospital purchase of physician practices creates a network whose primary mission is to maintain patient flow (admissions and ancillary services) for the hospital.

These activities cast medical care in the light of a retail business responding to competition by emphasizing convenience and technology. It is difficult to hear the emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention. The emphasis is there but it needs to be louder.

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