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A Raw Nerve

by John Fox, Director of Content

Yesterday, The New York Times quietly exposed a raw nerve in the physician community that we at athenahealth have been concerned about from the day we first opened our doors.

In an article entitled “Fueling the Anger of Doctors” Pauline Chen, MD cited some of the most devastating findings from our recent Physician Sentiment Index℠ conducted with Sermo. Namely, as she sums it up, that “Nearly two-thirds of doctors felt that the current health care environment was detrimental to the delivery of care, and more than half believed that the care quality would only decline over the next five years. Less than a fifth of doctors felt they could make clinical decisions based on what was best for the patient rather than on what payers were willing to cover. And an overwhelming majority believed that getting reimbursed was becoming increasingly complex and burdensome.” 

Doctors -- like the colleague Dr. Chen calls out in her piece who left the profession because she consistently worked overtime on “mindless paperwork, just so the insurance companies can deny payment" -- feel the actual quality of care they want to provide is being compromised by a broken system. Throughout the health care reform debate, publications developed charts and analyses galore about “what reform means for patients,” “what reform means for employers,” “what reform means for insurers/government.” Rarely was it asked in the mainstream media what reform means for doctors and the care they’ll be able to give. We recently made an effort to do that here in an attempt to fill that unfortunate gap. As Dr. Chen makes clear, a system that makes doctors unhappy and hinders their ability to do what they do best is not good for anyone – least of all patients.

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