By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
Let me start off with an quick note on the decline of general practitioners. There is a shortage of general practitioners in the United States, a fact that we wring our hands over periodically. General practitioners are becoming scarce thanks in part to the rising cost in medical school and the lower rates of reimbursements by insurance companies. General practitioners make half of what specialized doctors make. A small number of GPs is a big problem for all of us, especially as the baby boomers age and more people than ever have access to health care as new laws take effect.
Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals do their jobs to care for people, and to care for themselves. Medicine and caring for others is how I, and all other health care providers decided to earn a living. Keeping a practice afloat is hard work, and increasingly, we’re all being paid less for what we do. Insurance reimbursements and Medicare reimbursements have both declined significantly.
An article in the New York Times Well blog two weeks ago, a doctor shared this statistic: 80% of med school graduates leave with their degree and significant in debt. The average debt incurred is $158,000 and more than a third of med students have upwards of $200,000 in debt when they leave.
Physician dispensing is a way to contribute to your patients overall experience at your practice, can help cut down in errors as information passes from doctor to pharmacist, and also creates a new revenue stream for your practice. New laws have been passed or are upcoming to make the practice of physician dispensing illegal. In Georgia, the practice is outlawed. These laws now impact practices such as mine, since they prevent compounding pharmacies from supplying medicines to physician offices directly. Now, patients have to go to the pharmacy themselves, with prescription in hand, and pick up the drugs in person. This law really seems aimed at protecting the profits of the pharmacies and drug manufacturers. Our offices need to stay open to serve our patients, and we’ve got to find innovative ways to ensure that they do. This avenue may be closed (or closing) but I know the health care industry will find a way.