Money. Power. Status. Popularity. The four human interest motivators.
What does this mean for physicians in the context of a hospital-centric healthcare future?
The hospital will control the money, but due to the need to use fair market valuation studies as backup for compliance purposes, which will lead to a spiraling down of physician compensation, sooner or later doctors’ incomes will be as predictable as government employee classifications.
Power will be tempered by cookie-cutter reliance on so-called best practices and by strictly enforced treatment pathways.
Status will decline with income and with the fact that physicians will cease to be the only “doctors” among the plethora of degree-laden providers.
And, popularity will wane as physicians become back room technologists once or twice removed from most direct patient care which will be delivered by advanced practice nurses and other paraprofessionals.
You might think that Charles Dickens has come back to write some new lines for the ghost of Christmas future, but alas, unless physicians act to move the healthcare solar system’s center back onto them and away from hospitals, this future is inevitable.
So you see, this isn’t Dickens’ story: A Christmas Carol had a happy ending – this may turn out to be a tragedy.