When you pay too much for medical care, other bills suffer. When other bills suffer, you need to get a part-time job as a night watchman. When you're a night watchman, you get fired from your day job because you can't stay awake. And when you get fired from your regular job you end up becoming a mascot for a new sippy drink. Don't become a mascot for a new sippy drink. Get rid of traditional medical care and upgrade to DMC.
Since I got into emergency medicine, back in 1995, I have watched myself and I have watched other doctors, to see if I could identify a pattern. A method, that helps the physician quickly and easily decide on what's the best course of action, and how best to interact with a patient, and of course, that patient's loved ones.
I used to think it was all academic prowess. That only the really brilliant physicians did well. The ones who graduated with honors and were always on the Dean's List at med-school. Now, that's all fine and dandy, and it helps you get a job, but it doesn't do anything for your job satisfaction. It doesn't help you manage patients more efficiently and it sure doesn't help you find yourself.
What's the secret? What makes certain 'brilliant' doctors, miserable, unhappy, burnt-out and looking for something else to do, while other 'academically average' doctors appear to be having a good time in their chosen career, and resonating really well with coworkers, patients and patients' families?
I teach my students these days: "if you don't know what to do, just ask yourself a simple question: what would you do if it was your family?" This question has saved me. It has saved many a patient. It suddenly changed me (this years ago) from the young ER doc who was too afraid to get the grumpy cardiologist or neurosurgeon out of bed to come in and do the right thing, to a confident, smiling physician who genuinely had fun, doing the best thing he could do for the patient in trouble. I used to care about ordering a CT angiogram at 3am because it would piss off the radiologist or the surgeon, to the guy who orders whatever he wants, whenever he wants, 'because it's the bloody right thing to do'. I'm not one for corny spiritual reflection, but I do feel incredibly grateful and blessed that I get to fix people in trouble as an ER doc. I also get to prevent serious disease as an internist. I also get to innovate with new ideas in the acute care and work comp business, not to mention virtual telemedicine.
The goal here has never waivered: what would I do for my own loved ones? That's what every physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, nurse, patient care tech, medical assistant and medical secretary should be thinking and asking of him/herself, if they ever find themselves wondering what's the right decision. Simple eh?
Welcome to the first of a million blog posts on the subject of health: your health, your family's health, your coworker's health, your company health, your employee's health and the health of your country!
My name is Sonny Saggar. I'm an emergency physician as well as an internist. I founded and now operate four clinics, specializing in both primary care and urgent care, in the St. Louis area. Almost daily, I ruminate about the relative pros and cons of our business model, and as to whether we are doing the best thing we can for the good health of our patrons: the patients. Are my staff taking good care of them? Do the patients understand their situation (illness or injury)? How can we communicate good preventative measures to the patient, and are we doing that? Have we got a plan in place for the patient to follow, just in case this or that happens? Does the patient have a way to contact us in case there's a problem, be it about their health situation or even their bill? So many questions. So many challenges. So many innovative solutions. So many patients we know we can help, if we just put our heads together and work out a better way.
It was never my plan to become a primary care physician, but having been an ER doc for over 13 years, I realized that 85% of my patients weren't even emergencies, and the other 15% were quite often people who failed to prevent their stroke or heart attack, largely because they didn't have any primary preventative care! What an awesome opportunity: I get to prevent those big medical problems. And I think I'm more motivated than most internists, because I've seen much more of what happens if there's no prevention.
The urgent care thing was simply to offload the overcrowded ERs. People with sore throats, coughs and bladder infections, sprained ankles, fractured hands and forehead lacerations shouldn't be going to the ER and distracting the ER doctors and nurses from the cases that really need their undivided attention: the major trauma, the strokes and the heart attacks. That 'divided attention' hurts all of us, insured or not, so urgent care has always been intended as a huge solution for ER. What I really want to do is make a 24/7 urgent care, thus removing the last reason why people inappropriately go to the ER (formerly known as the 'Everything Room', or the 'Entitlement Room').
Finally, and I'll expand on this in a future blog, as an employer myself, I discovered that many businesses simply have bad strategies for their workers' compensation cases: expensive, inefficient, out of control and prone to abuse. My team then took on the challenges of access to medical care, employee absenteeism and lost productivity, exponentially increasing work comp budgets, and we are now providing area employers some real solutions, that not only result in healthy, happy employees, but a better bottom line too.
The Affordable Care Act has many worthy tenets, but navigating the new challenges needs expert help and assistance. The ACA is more insurance reform than it is healthcare reform, to be blunt.
Our team has brainstormed the new rules of the game to death. We think we can help the individual, the employer, even the insurance company, do healthy better.