CF 090: Healthcare Of Old – Days Gone By
Today we’re going to talk about how healthcare has changed – gone are the days of this and gone are the days of that. And there will be plenty of room for me to spread some personality in there too. If you’re a regular listener, you know I’m never lacking an opinion.
But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music
OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around. Welcome, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.
You have collapsed into Episode #90
We can’t get started without mentioning the sponsor of the first half of our show,
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We have some great stuff this week. It’s a short week due to Labor Day so this episode may run a little short and that’s OK. I try to not get too long winded. I think I went on about 45 minutes when we talked about Closing Patients two episodes ago.
But, a little gripe session never hurt anyone. If you’ve ever wondered whether Closing patients is right or wrong, get my take by going and listening to episode #88. I lay it out pretty clearly there.
And don’t forget, last week’s podcast about Fibromyalgia. New info on fibro and treatment. Good stuff there in episode #89
I want to start with an article that kind of struck me as…..huh….interesting. It’s called ‘The Old Days of Medicine Are Gone” by Michael Weiss(Weiss M 2019) and it was published in MedPage Today on January 17, 2019. Hot potato, heads up now.
Weiss is a cardiologist and I have cited this article in the show notes over at chiropracticforward.com. This article refers to medical doctors specifically but there are a lot of parallels that we doctors of chiropractic can relate to.
The article starts by saying that in the last 5-6 years, physicians have become less and less powerful. So have their patients. This disempowerment is due to a lot of things according to this article. Chief among them are:
- Health management organizations
- Managed care and
- The insurance exchange
Mr. Weiss says that all of these factors have taken power from the doctors and put the power into the hands of the large insurance companies and in the hands of the government. Well, that’s been going on for at least a generation.
I remember a pencil pusher with an insurance company several years ago, a person who doesn’t have any kind of degree other than following prompts on a computer…..I remember them telling me how to treat a patient. What they needed. How many times….I was stunned. I will just say that I had a strongly worded conversation that I’m certain went in one ear, bounced around in that dude’s empty noggin, and fell out the other without making any impact.
But I remember thinking, we are allowing insurance companies, the guys with a financial stake and a financial bias, we are allowing these people to tell us how and when to treat patients when they’ve never seen them in their lives. These patients are just numbers on a page to these companies and they’re going to tell us how to treat them.
Same goes for the government. Whether it’s a popular opinion or not, makes not one damn to me. I’m going to tell you that when you put all of your healthcare decisions in the hands of one big fat, red-taped fat bureuacratic entity that has already screwed up Medicare and Social Security for no reason at all, due to both sides of a messed up aisle, well, you are once again numbers on a page and sometimes you get what you deserve. Of course that doesn’t mean everything’s peachy and we don’t need some changes to the healthcare system. We most certainly do. Universal healthcare medicare for all though…..I don’t see how that is the solution. Again, one fat, slow, dumb entity that has a history of screwing up big programs isn’t what I personally want making all of the healthcare decisions for me and my family but to each their own.
Getting back to the article, Mr. Weiss says this physician disempowerment was basically a money grab on the parts of these powers and on the part of the pharmaceutical industry. Well…..of course. I think all that goes without saying doesn’t it? But I’m glad someone is indeed actually saying it. We should be shouting it out loud but, will it change anything? Politicians won’t do anything about it when big pharma is in their pockets and they’re scared of the insurance companies.
Anyway, he says that doctors’ incomes have been progressively on the decline for years. Can i get an ‘amen’ on that my people. Testify!! He says this cash-strapped generation of physicians have been forced out of private practice into working for hospitals and huge conglomerates and that gone are the days of Wednesday off for golf, gone are the days of being called a doctor rather than a provider, gone are the days of being respected, gone are the days when patient’s would say “But what does the doctor say?” rather than “Will the insurance pay?”, gone are the days when a physician could direct care they deemed necessary. Even the prescription pad is becoming useless since insurance doesn’t cover a lot of the scripts written these days.
He says gone are the days when a physician could sit down and perform a detailed and thorough examination. Instead, we have be busted down to being typists, chaotic clerks, mindlessly clucking away at meaningless electronic health records benefiting only large entities. Hallelujah!!
In order to make money these days, it has to be quantity and, unfortunately, quality many times suffers. For better or worse. When your income goes down, you see more to maintain the income you have built your life around. Quality of care suffers. Not intentionally. Nobody is morally corrupt typically. It’s just a natural consequence. You have bills to pay and you’ll figure out a way.
Take a radiologist. They used to get about $35 for reading a neck series. Now, after Obamacare, they make $7-$10. I happen to know a radiologist very well so you can trust what I’m telling you. At least here in Texas. Could be different in your area. What happens when you income gets reduced by roughly 2/3 but you still have a big house and some extra toys you have purchased?
Maybe you have a big garage sale and get rid of the extra fat? Ah hell no, that’s not what happens. Instead of 5 films read in 30 minutes you read 10. Think you might have an elevated risk of missing something? Of course you do.
Back to the article….I keep getting side-tracked, he says gone are the days when a physician had the luxury of utilizing their skills of observation. He says now there are cookbook guides that have become the puppet masters of the physicians. I’d like to go on record right now, as part of a profession that has no standardization whatsoever…..I’m all for researched and evidence-backed guides. I love it. Give us some guides. Hell, don’t just give them to us, FORCE us to abide by them. Please? Lol. Just make sure they weren’t generated by a damn insurance company. That’s all.
He says gone are the days of decent hospital stays and the days of when a patient could be cured of infections from a decent stay at the hospital. Now, he claims that patients are kicked out of the hospital early and take the buggies back to their community and spread them which leads to resistant buggies. I’d argue that commonly prescribing antibiotics when it’s a virus was problematic and the cause of a lot of resistance back in the day as well? He left that out oddly enough.
He hit on a HUGE one when he says gone are the days of reasonable costs for a doctor visit or a drug co-pay. Now, since Obamacare, we see double and triple premiums, up to $100 co-pays, and double or triple deductibles.
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Back to the article, Mr. Weiss says gone are the days of visiting an ER and getting immediate care as if illness is the priority. Instead, we gotta get that co-pay covered first.
He claims the days of physicians not having to worry about a patients insurance are gone. But…haven’t those days been gone since the 80’s or so? Honestly? That’s not something new. He says though that the insurance companies have encouraged minute clinics where the nurse pracs, and he says soon the pharmacists, will be giving the medical advice.
He doesn’t seem to like this idea much but he’s OK with people waiting for hours to see a ‘physician’ because there aren’t enough of them. I’m pretty OK with nurse practitioners for the more mundane stuff. Plus, in my experience, NPs are more likely to refer to chiropractors for whatever reason.
While Mr. Weiss is right to some extent, a lot of this is just whining in my opinion. The traditional physician doctor had their run with all of the power, the glory, and the golden ticket they cash when they get their medical degree. And, to an extent, they damn well still have a certain amount of power, glory, and golden ticket status. Although to a lesser extent currently. Admittedly.
It’s one of the last quotes of the article that gets my goat a bit. He says, “Physicians’ voices have been drowned out, their plights buried, leaving their patients helpless,,,,”
Well freaking whaaaa Weiss. Yes, chiropractic has the status it has in healthcare right now because a certain portion of its practitioners refuse to progress. In fact, they work to inhibit any progress and cripple any efforts to expand the profession. Yep, it’s there and it’s undeniable but, when we talk about having voices drowned out, plights buried, and helpless patients, let’s go a little deeper.
I’ve said it a million times but the medical field is going to look back on spinal fusions in 20 years and wonder what the hell they were thinking. I think I heard where lumbar fusion surgery has gone up 500+% in the last decade or so with little to zero hard stats that show any improvement in outcomes.
Oh looky there, I see a herniation. Let’s cut that out and you should be good as new. We know so much more now. We know you can’t cut out pain. We know you don’t treat an image. You treat the patient in front of you because most of the time, there is little to no correlation between what you see on an x-ray and what the person’s pain generator is.
We know now that chronic pain is mostly in the central nervous system. Not out in some peripheral part of the body. You cannot typically get rid of chronic pain by cutting something out. We know more and more now that it just doesn’t work that way.
Yet, I feel confident promising you that right now, several fusions across the country are taking place. As I type this out. We also know that less than half of those fusion surgeries will be successful, right?
We know this stuff. Yet, they continue. Unabated. So, while I agree that insurance, the government, and the whole managed care concept have screwed up our healthcare system, I would say that physicians have played very key parts in their own downfall. Hello….opioid crisis anyone? Unnecessary surgery? Surgeries for the wrong candidates? Super bugs from overprescribing? Any of this ringing any bells?
Have you heard the podcast called Dr. Death? Basically, a so called spinal surgeon down in Plano, TX maimed several patients and even killed several and the hospitals protected him and enabled him to keep hurting people over and over and over again.
It’s not just insurance companies and big pharma that has cause any fall from grace. And let’s be clear, I don’t think there’s been a fall from grace. Go to a hospital and see the interactions. Everyone still defers very clearly to the physician and I don’t see that changing. It’s just now they have to work more, follow rules, and get paid less. I think that’s the big gripe.
And to that I’d say, welcome to my world friend. Welcome to my world.
But again, it’s not just the system. Medical doctors have done their part. And, as a chiropractor, I’d argue that part of that is they have largely ignored the American College of Physicians’ recommendations to try spinal manipulative therapy, exercise, massage, acupuncture, yoga, thai chi, and heat first for back pain.
Those are the first-line recommendations and they are in concert with The Lancet papers on low back pain, the CDC, the FDA, the Joint Commission, The White House, and just about anyone else with any sense at all when it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal pain. Yet, as I said, fusions are going on all over the country right now. As I speak. That’s when only 5% of back pain sufferers truly need surgery.
When does someone truly need spinal surgery? When they hurt? Nope. Not usually anyway. Remember, you can’t cut pain out. Outside of an obvious case of a spinal fracture, tumor…..the bad bad stuff….I think it’s commonly accepted that surgery is necessary in a loss of bowel or bladder function, saddle anesthesia – cauda equina- type stuff, or a progressive neural deficits.
So, if only 5% of back pain sufferers truly need surgery, why are so many still happening every day? After all of the research and after all of the updated recommendations?
Well, I’d say it’s financial. Get this, according to the American Medical Group Association’s Physician Compensation Survey says their research spine surgeons make $688,500 a damn year on average.
Me personally, I’m doing pretty well in practice. But, it took me 16 years before I really started putting the pedal to the metal. Now part of that was my fault because I was traveling around playing music. Part of it was chiropractic’s fault because we have a system that eats its own.
Either way, check this out, it took me 16 or so years to really build but, for an orthopedic surgeon, during the first two years of employment, bring in $400k and by their third year, $670k. Allied Physicians reported the maximum orthopedic spine surgeon salary was $1,352,000.
Crazy. We have some chiropractors that make that kind of money but it’s not many and it’s not very likely.
Anyway, I agree with some aspects of the article. Other aspects make me chuckle because, although it’s to a much lesser extent, physicians of our day are dealing with some of the things we’ve been dealing with for years and years.
If we could just communicate with them the fact that we evidence-based chiropractors can play such a big part in helping them treat their patients and getting them back to work and back to life, I probably would have more sympathy.
Hell, people come to us because we’re experts in what we do, because we are safe, and because we’re effective but, a large part of the medical field looks at us like stumbling idiots playing doctor and hurting our patients. While that may be true for some in our profession as well as for some in THEIR profession (hello Dr. Death), for the most part, we are all highly educated, highly capable doctors getting patients well.
Maybe when they begin seeing us in that light, we start to see some sort of deeper, more meaningful integration. It’s started here and there in some pockets of awesomeness but not in general. It’s still a goal worth chasing.
That’s assuming we chiropractors can get our of our own way. Otherwise, if I were a medical doctor, I wouldn’t want any part of something I could only explain as pseudoscience. I WOULD however be interested in a healthcare discipline that had the randomized controlled trials backing the meat of their modality. Count me in on that.
And that’s the way I see it today.
Part of making your life easier is having the right patient education tools in your office. Tools that educate based on solid, researched information. We offer you that. It’s done for you. We are taking pre-orders right now for our brand new, evidence-based office brochures available at chiropracticforward.com. Just click the STORE link at the top right of the home page and you’ll be off and running. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if something is out of sorts or isn’t working correctly.
If you’re like me, you get tired of answering the same old questions. Well, these brochures make great ways of educating while saving yourself time and breath. They’re also great for putting in take-home folders.
Go check them out at chiropracticforward.com under the store link. While you’re there, sign up for the newsletter won’t you? We won’t spam you. Just one email per week to remind you when the new episode comes out. That’s it.
I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment instead of chemical treatments like pills and shots.
When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show that many patients get good or excellent results through chiropractic for headaches, neck pain, back pain, joint pain, to name just a few.
Chiropractic care is safe and cost-effective. It can decrease instances of surgery & disability. Chiropractors normally do this through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal time requirements or hassle to the patient.
And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, chiropractors can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health of the patient!
Patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment offering the least harm.
Send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think of our show or tell us your suggestions for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on iTunes and other podcast services. Y’all know how this works by now so help if you don’t mind taking a few seconds to do so.
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We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.
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About the Author & Host
Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger
Weiss M (2019). “The old days of medicine are gone.” Medpage Today – KevinMD.com.