Saturday, August 3, 2013

Of Time, Physicians, and Obamacare
Effective people know that time is the limiting factor. The output limits of any process are set by the scarcest resource. In the process we call ‘accomplishment,’ that resource is time.”
“Time is also a unique resource. One cannot rent, hire, buy, or otherwise obtain more time.”

“The supply of time is totally inelastic. No matter how high the demand, the supply will not increase. There is no price for it and no utility curve for it. Moreover, time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday’s time is gone forever and will never come back. Time is, therefore, always in exceeding short supply.”
Peter Drucker (1909-2004)
The health reform law robs practitioners of time to spend with patients.
Instead it burdens them with rules, regulations and mandates to meet compliance standards, to enter data for their EHRs, to make sure every computer “i” and “t” is crossed, to participate in organization meetings.  Add to these requirement waiting  on telephone hold with third parties, managing a small business,  and seeing a patient every 10 minutes to make ends meet, and you have a time problem.
 Doctors no longer have time to spend with patients. This is especially true with women physicians, who have more family obligations than  male counterparts. A current article  in the Wall Street Journal, “The Real Women’s Issue: Time” hits the nail on the head.
Lack of time is an issue for all physicians.  It is the main cause of physician burnout.  It’s a central  issue of physician dissatisfaction. It’s often why physicians abandon independent practice to become hospital employees. Hospital employment is  a search for more time  to spend with patients,  family, and one’s self.  It is seeking more “quality time,” for sanity.
Whether an innovation creates more time is also the main reason an innovation succeeds or fails. If it complicates rather than simplifies a doctor time by consuming more time to maser, it will fail.   If it is too difficult to understand in this fast-paced world of the social media, it will fail. If it takes more of the physicians’ and patients’ time, it will fail.
On the other hand, if it frees up time for the doctor, it stands a good chance of succeeding. If it effectively delegates tasks to staff, to patients, or to other caregivers, it’sprobably a winner. If it cuts through bureaucratic requirements while meeting government or other third party standards, it is marketable. If it speeds an effective response to health emergencies – a heart attack, a stroke, a life threatening infection or injury, it will work. If it cuts waiting times for patients, go for it.
Tweet: Innovations that save time for doctors to spend more time with patients have a good chance for succeeding in the marketplace.

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