Doctor Distractions!

On a daily basis I listen to experts talking about the need to redesign services. Their thinking is to build new spaces and add more staff to Health Systems to solve the problems of increasing demand from patients.

But evidence shows that many of these environments should be looking at the Consultation. Or to put it another way, the amount of non value added, menial task being completed by the most qualified and expensive resource we use…..Doctors.

It is a simple equation. If it is becoming increasingly more difficult to recruit trained Doctors, and with patient numbers set to double in a relatively short period of time (ageing population, better and more extensive chronic management, longer life expectancy etc etc etc) how will we meet the demand with the same Doctor resource?

Building a new hospital isn’t going to help.  

We have to reduce the burden on the Doctor. Many countries do this well in some specialties, but perhaps the answer lies in managing expectations of patients and Doctors early in their relationship.  Educating the Patient that the time with the Doctor will become shorter rather than trying to justify it being longer and longer.

Maybe the biggest opportunity of all lies in recognising that the Doctor is a scarce resource and that having them hunting for patients, completing basic diagnostics, battling with archaic computer systems and asking routine questions is not what an elite trained resource should be doing? That doesn’t mean paying enormous fees for a complete overhaul of the “archaic computer system” and then transferring the problem to that more expensive infrastructure, it is simpler than that.

It means maybe learning from other industries. I mean imagine the scene…..a senior partner of a law firm being passed a case file by a junior where all that has been done is that the case file has been bound and a contents page put on the front….the Lawyer then spends the next 3 hours checking spelling, checking references and doing basic administration on the case. 

Let’s be honest, it just wouldn’t happen would it!! 

Tim Maguire, Managing Director, That Figures