Blog: Keeping Doctors at the Center of Health Care

The growing reality of health care reform and the cauldron of conflict it creates between the creaking legacy of volume-based reimbursement and new, largely unproven methods of shifting more financial risk to physicians is upon us. A side effect is unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety among American physicians. Decades of investment in education and training followed by more decades accumulating practical experience should have strengthened the position of physicians at the center of health care innovation and influence. Growing perception is it has not. Evidence grows of dissatisfaction among physicians. Leading pundits predict a mass exodus from the profession. One poll conducted by Investor’s Business Daily prior to the election and another by the Physicians Foundation after the election — say up to 40% of physicians are dissatisfied and at least have thought of quitting before the Affordable Care Act is implemented in 2014.

Many futurists see the power of consumerism (consumer-directed healthcare) and big data technologies (“doc in a box”) diminishing the role of physicians. Even the gold standard road map for a bright health care future, Don Berwick’s Triple Aim, largely ignores the importance of keeping physicians at the center of health care reform. At Lumeris, we have pioneered the thought that physician satisfaction should be added as the fourth tenet of the Triple Aim. We call it Triple Aim Plus One. By giving physicians a “shout out,” we believe it draws attention to health care’s most important tool to improve quality, cost and patient and physician satisfaction in the near term. Incentivizing changes in physician behavior over the next five years represents America’s best hope for improving health care outcomes and restoring fiscal stability to our economy.

There is a ton of investment going into cool technologies and innovative benefit plans focused on changing consumer behavior around their health. Long term, these efforts to change the behavior of 330 million consumers will produce remarkable results. Shorter term, we believe giving 330,000 frontline physicians the tools, information and incentives to practice medicine in exciting ways, which we could only have dreamed about a decade ago, will have the highest impact. All surveys confirm consumers place enormous trust in their physicians. Arming physicians with powerful new tools and information will enhance this consumer trust and drive meaningful changes in consumer behavior and improve the outlook for our country. It is not surprising that we feel this way.

Physician founders largely created the vision for Lumeris. Enabling physicians to practice at the top of their license while leveraging this incredible resource with extenders, both human and machine, we can wrestle the complexity and opaqueness of health care delivery to the mat and begin a true national commitment to effectively managing both the acute and preventive health needs of our population. I look forward to sharing specific examples in this blog of real world successes in this journey we are taking together.