The Effects of Covid-19
The COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Pandemic and its related economic climate shaped the trends of consolidation, urgent care, and telemedicine.
Increased Access to Medical Care
Covid did make individuals aware of their need for medical treatment, and how they get that medical care. Before Covid, only a small percentage of Americans were aware of online meetings such as telemedicine, online Zoom calls with your doctor, and with your counselor. COVID opened the door to online access to health care.
While patients still want to go in and get one-on-one treatment, it is unlikely we will ever return to mostly in-office, face-to-face medical care prevalent before the pandemic.
Although you cannot do even half of what you need to over the phone or even on FaceTime, the follow-up, the confirmation of symptoms, or the transfer of information obtained through discussing your medical history can be done maybe forever over the phone, through Facetime or in a computer-assisted environment.
Another impact of Covid-19 on the medical industry is that patients experienced not being able to get into hospitals, get to their doctors or get a response because the hospitals were flooded.
Perhaps this altered the way Americans viewed the importance of their health. Many Americans came to rely on online sources, not just WebMD or examine.com, but podcasts by elite specialists as well. Since March 2020, much of this medical information has been provided free.
Physicians Providing Medical Information Free
Hospitals like Stanford or medical schools like Stanford and Harvard pushed for their professors and medical schools to provide this free medical information not just from the research centers but also from the medical community.
Consequently, there’s a plethora of information provided that’s now available. Subscribers to these media services continued to join large groups of consumers and follow specialty doctors, whether it’s an eye doctor, a doctor that specializes in memory, or a doctor that specializes in exercise or nutrition. Post-Covid we see a lot of the doctors and clinicians that have since combined their research and practice to offer it on such platforms.
Access to Specialists Through Online Platforms
We’ve seen it even on YouTube or heard it on Spotify. Instead of listening to the doctor that appears on Dr. Phil or someone similar, patients can access these specialty doctors directly, who not only access and diagnose but follow up online. These doctors can prescribe nutrition and cite research and clinical studies, which show what food and what ingredients you can take from a holistic perspective as well as a pharmaceutical perspective to treat just about any ailment short of surgery.
The Benefits and Downfalls of Starting a Medical Practice
The benefits and downsides to being employed as a medical practitioner with a hospital or a medical group versus your private practice depend on the quality of life you value.
The benefits of working for a hospital are very simple. You don’t have to manage your practice, and you don’t have to manage anyone else. You do have to manage what other people do with the information, and how they treat your patients that you’ve already seen.
For the most part, you can show up to do your job. You make sure everyone else gives you what you need to do so in a timely fashion. Then you can go home.
You understand as a physician that “Go home” means that while at home, you are also on call, available for calls about your patients. While working for a hospital, there’s somebody typically at the hospital covering for you.
If someone calls about your patient, there’s someone else that’s on call or there’s someone else that’s working on duty at the time. Thus, you can add information or assist, but you often don’t have to go into the hospital right away. Also, if you send your patient to the ER, you don’t have to go and meet them there.
Another benefit is you don’t have to market your private practice. The hospital is responsible for marketing and making sure that enough patients come through the doors. The hospital assists you with the cost of technology and training on technology. They give you the time off to obtain the annual education, medical education, and continuing medical education that your practice or specialty requires.
Lifestyle and Job Security
Working for a hospital or large medical group enables you the lifestyle to spend your additional non-work hours not working and not focusing on work but with your family. Another benefit is job security.
If you do your job and do it well, the likelihood that the hospital will keep you is pretty high given the current demand for physicians.
The downside of working for a hospital is you’re limited to the market value of a physician provider in your area whether you are a specialist or a generalist.
If you are in a competitive market, that amount may go down and even though you’re not writing the checks, the hospital is covering and choosing which technology, which vendors, and which providers. That means you have much less control if you’re working for a hospital versus if you run your own practice.
Now, if you want to maximize the revenue that you can bring home, a private practice would be more beneficial. However. it also comes with the headaches of managing employees, hiring, firing, and managing the property if you own the office building or office buildings. Then you would also be responsible for handling all the administrative items, whether it’s buying technology, keeping up with technology, IT, and communicating and negotiating with the vendors you use.
Most small practices have hospital privileges. The hospital requires you to work with certain vendors that may not be your first choice. However, you still have to manage that relationship. If you use different technology or different sources of information or patient information in your private practice, that would be separate from what you would do in a hospital.
While there are some exceptions as a private practitioner, you would be in more control of how many patients you see, and how much you bill to a certain extent, depending on whether you take insurance or cash. Then you also must manage the growth of your medical practice and limit the amount of time that you spend in it.
Because even though you’re an entrepreneur or a small private practice owner, you may only work half of the days of the week. But for one day-and-a-half, you spend managing employees, vendors, relationships, and contracts. Thus, it is a lifestyle tradeoff.
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