Becker’s Healthcare spoke with Cathy Jacobson, president and CEO of Milwaukee-based Froedtert Health, prior to speaking on a panel at Becker’s Hospital Review 7th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable titled, “The Digital Imperative: The Open & Shut Case for Innovation”. All this gobbledygook means she is a pretty big deal to other administrators. I was tipped off by Shane Purcell MD about her thoughts on primary care physicians highlighted in the piece:
Q: What’s one conviction in healthcare that needs to be challenged?
CJ: That every patient needs a primary care physician. As we start stratifying our patients into distinct populations based on their health needs and develop that insight further into consumer driven wants, we are finding that a substantial sector of the population does not want or need a primary care physician relationship. People need primary care but not necessarily a physician relationship. We need to stop trying to fit patients into our health system-driven model and develop the means to serve their health needs on their terms. If we don’t, someone else will.
How does that make you feel? Pretty crappy, right? I have known this for a long time. Hospitals want patients to be linked to THEM and not you as a doctor. You should have noticed their commercials over the years with hospitals saying “as your healthcare provider”, etc. It is about wordplay and confusion to make patients feel that the hospital is the doctor and the doctor is the hospital. We know that this isn’t true. If doctors and nurses left the system then they pretty much just have an empty building. In fact, if a doctor is missing for a day there is panic and mass hysteria. If a CEO or other administrator goes missing for a month no one notices. But the patients don’t know this as no representative organization (AMA, AAFP, ACP) has made a campaign to push back (Thanks, guys!). Linking patients to a hospital and not a doctor has been the goal for years because hospitals want the patients’ loyalty (and money) so that their doctor has to refer to them and if the doctor leaves they can just replace her with another doctor or MLP. We are being treated as pawns in a chess set.
The sentence “People need primary care but not necessarily a physician relationship” is very disturbing to me and goes against EVERYTHING I believe in. With one sentence she wipes us out totally. With one sentence she disrespects 2/3 of all doctors. And there will be no repercussions for this. None. But you want to know the truth? The truth is that she and other administrators are afraid. They know they’re the ones who are not really needed. If the future leads to doctors unhinging themselves from the hospitals then we take back control of our future and the reigns of healthcare. The ones who serve the patients’ “health on their own terms” will be us. We are the “someone else” she is worried about.
It’s time we shake the box. It’s time we free ourselves from being shackled to hospitals. It’s time for a physician ONLY revolution. What are we waiting for?