Medicine is a calling for many physicians, a career that chooses them at an early age.
It’s all about helping and healing, and that's why so many local doctors find time for mission trips abroad and to work in free health clinics here at home.
But the realities of practicing medicine in the real world all too often intrude on the inherent altruism that informed their choice of profession.
There’s frustration out there, and doctors are letting us know about it.
Our annual Top Doctors online survey is underway, in which we ask Richmond’s doctors to choose the best of the best from their peers. We’ll share results in the April issue.
This year our online survey, which continues through Feb. 15, also gives doctors a chance to tell us about the greatest hindrances they face in terms of delivering quality care to patients.
Here’s a sampling so far:
- “Insurance and corporate interference”
- “The number of patients required to see daily”
- “Limited staffing and limited time due to increase in 'forms' that need to be completed”
- “Government mandates for computer entry”
- “Electronic health records”
- “Increasing burden of paperwork, intrusive nature of meeting quality metrics that misalign delivery of care and success on paper.”
Frustration is palpable in some of the responses, such as this: “I spend more time fulfilling the requirements of meaningful use, and ensuring I have documented my ICD-10 codes correctly, than actually seeing patients. I can no longer look them in the eyes, I have to constantly 'check boxes' on the computer screen. Medicine is no longer medicine; it is making sure all of the forms have been filled out correctly. There is no longer time for a patient who actually has a medical problem.”
It’s not just the paperwork, it’s the constant changing of the rules, too: “Even when a patient has been on a medication for years, we might suddenly face having to do another pre-authorization because the formulary has changed. Or we need to change the form of the medication (e.g. pill to liquid or to long-acting) and that takes another week of time to arrange. Interventions which have been working for years are suddenly denied because there's not 'published data' on it, but it's what's kept patients healthy and out of the hospital for years. Our team spends way too much time doing the paperwork and phone calls to make all this happen when we could be in the clinic with patients explaining their disease to them, doing counseling, or writing up patient education or disseminating our knowledge to other providers. This is why docs and nurses run in and out in less than 15 minutes — it's NOT because we don't want to spend more time with them. We already spend hours at work and after-hours doing this. This is a side of patient care that people don't see generally.”
We’ll explore some of these issues and others cited in the survey in coming weeks. Stay tuned.
Are you a Richmond-area physician or doctor and want to have your say? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll get the information to you. Deadline to complete the survey is 11 p.m. on Feb. 15.
A national advocate who seeks to boost awareness of African-Americans regarding organ donation will lecture today in Richmond on equity in transplants.
Dr. Velma Scantlebury will present “Health Equity in Kidney Transplantation: Experiences from a Surgeon's Perspective” at 3 p.m. at the University Student Commons Theater at Virginia
Commonwealth University. A reception follows.
She is associate chief of transplant surgery at Christiana Care Health System in Delaware. She is a medical pioneer, the first black woman to become a transplant surgeon. She has performed more than 1,000 transplant surgeries.
Scantlebury has served as a spokeswoman for Linkages for Life, a national campaign of the nonprofit The Links Inc. to promote the need for organ donation in the African-American community. The need is there: Blacks are more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure and kidney disorders, conditions that can cause permanent organ damage that may necessitate a transplant, according to Linkages for Life.
The Black Education Association plays host to the Richmond event.
New oral research program set for VCU
A multi-discipline program to train the next generation of researchers to treat oral cancers and similar diseases has been added beginning in the fall 2016 semester at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The oral health research doctoral program in the School of Dentistry will be open to students with a bachelor’s, master’s or a doctorate in dental surgery or equivalent degrees.
It will focus especially on cancer, infection and stem cell engineering, according to a news release.
The program will draw from the faculty of the dental school, the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering, guiding the students through cross-disciplinary projects. That will allow for “mutual exchange of talent and expertise,” says Oonagh Loughran, the program director.
“The students we train will go on to lead their own research groups to tackle these diseases,” she says in the release. “ This new degree is building on the research capability that we have now at VCU, while also looking to the future with VCU becoming not just recognized for our good clinical dentists, but also for our contributions to oral health research.”