Friday, July 24, 2009

Atul Gawande: University of Chicago Medical School Commencement Address: News Desk : The New Yorker

Atul Gawande: University of Chicago Medical School Commencement Address: News Desk : The New Yorker: "They lie in producing creative ways to insure we serve our patients more than our revenues. And it seems that we in medicine are the ones who have to make this happen.

Here are some specifics I have observed. First, the positive deviants have found ways to resist the tendency built into every financial incentive in our system to see patients as a revenue stream. These are not the doctors who instruct their secretary to have patients calling with follow-up questions schedule an office visit because insurers don’t pay for phone calls. These are not the doctors who direct patients to their side-business doing Botox injections for cash or to the imaging center that they own. They do not focus, the way business people do, on maximizing their high-margin work and minimizing their low-margin work.

Yet the positive deviants do not seem to ignore the money, either. Many physicians do, and I think I am one of them. We try to remain oblivious to the thousands of dollars flowing through our prescription pens. There’s nothing especially awful about that. We keep up with the latest technologies and medications in our specialty. We see our patients. We make our recommendations. We send out our bills. And, as long as the numbers come out all right at the end of each month, we put the money out of our minds."

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