Here are some words you might use to describe modern-day medicine:
Complex. Costly. Advanced. Chaotic. Expanding. Impersonal.
Here are some words you definitely wouldn't use to describe modern-day medicine:
Streamlined. Simple. Efficient. Cost-effective. Physician-friendly.
Like a high-rise building that keeps getting new floors, the medical business has grown rapidly and substantially in the past few decades. The result is quite impressive from the outside. Hospital systems with ever-expanding reaches; New drugs to tackle previously incurable ailments; Quality assurance protocols demanding excellence; Electronic health records coordinating care across multiple offices and institutions. All of these additions are impactful and exciting. But whether you are adding floors to a high-rise building or rapidly changing the practice of medicine: someone needs to check the foundation.
When you do, you will see that all of this exponential expansion is taking a toll. When you strip away the excess material and dig down to the core, you see that the foundational relationship upon and around which all health care systems are built is being eroded by the day. The physician-patient relationship used to be sacred. It's now become an afterthought.
This erosion has consequences for both parties. Patients have made their concerns known. Long wait times, short visits, impersonal care, a different "provider" every visit - taken together, we know that patients are not satisfied with their health care, despite all of our advances.
Less attention has been paid to the other side of the equation. What of the physicians?
The crisis of physician "burn out" offers an answer. Physicians are experiencing anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and suicide at alarming and increasing rates. There are many proposed causes for this. Some blame "moral distress", the psychological trauma associated with seeing suffering and being unable to help. Others blame the time constraints physicians are under, or the ever growing body of medical knowledge they are responsible for mastering, or the constant threat of medical malpractice lawsuits, or the influence of health insurance companies, or the burden of the electronic health record, or the constant threat of making a fatal error.
Here at ALOE, we say "yes, and". The ills associated with modern day medical practice are many. But this doesn't have to be complicated. Here is the problem, in a nutshell:
Physicians are trained to, first, do no harm.
Our systems demand that physicians, first, pick the right note template.
Physicians are most effective when they apply their knowledge, experience, and skills to care for patients and one another. Physicians "burn out" when they are forced to complete an unmanageable list of non-clinical tasks before they can apply their knowledge, experience, and skills to care for patients and one another.
At this point, you might be wondering, "but if computers and electronic innovations are a big part of the problem, why would we want more of them?".
That's a great question. We agree that computers and electronic innovations are a big part of the problem. We just think they ought to be part of the solution, too.
Computers are meant to work for us, not against us. They should facilitate meaningful interactions, not stand in the way.
That's why we created ALOE. We invite you to read on to learn what makes us different.