Saturday, July 13, 2013

Doctors are bottlenecks

Doctors think of themselves as being indispensable . Most have pretty high self-esteem – after all, in order to successfully get through medical college , you need a lot of physical stamina and mental energy. You need to perform well academically , in order to graduate , and if you are used to being in the top 10 % of our class, you start thinking of yourself as being special !

The fact that their patients are so dependent on them – and that they are willing to wait patiently for hours for their advice , it’s easy to understand why doctors get used to being put on pedestal. It's hard to think of yourself as being only human, when you occupy such a superior position, which is why lots of doctors think that they play a role which is indispensable . They take pride in their academic knowledgebase as well as their professional skills , and feel that no one else can do quite as good a job as they do – all doctors have a superiority complex !

While it’s true that doctors are valuable , it's also equally true that a lot of the stuff which doctors do can be easily and quickly done someone else who's a much less expensive resource ! Often, this person would do a better job , because he does it again and again, and becomes expert at doing it !

Doctors should try to make themselves redundant , so that they are able to delegate their duties – either to an assistant , or with the help of technology. This would allow them to free up their time , which they could then devote on things which they find more intellectually challenging. The use of physician extenders and physician assistants are a real world example of cleverly using human help in order to improve their efficiency .

Another simple tool is to use technology to educate patients - for example , by using videos or online elearning courses designed for patients , so they can learn stuff for themselves , without having to ask the doctor the same questions ( which many doctors often get tired of providing the answer to !)

Any doctor who develops tools and techniques to free up his time can then leverage this in order to improve his personal productivity. Since all doctors have similar pain points, this can also provide the nucleus of a valuable product or service , which lots of healthcare systems would be happy to pay for, in order to make their physicians more efficient !

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