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Leave ‘productivity’ out of the physician-patient relationship

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Robert Centor, M.D., is leery of applying “productivity” to medicine.  He writes in Med Page Today:

“According to Wikipedia, ‘Productivity describes various measures of the efficiency of production. A productivity measure is expressed as the ratio of output to inputs used in a production process, i.e., output per unit of input. Productivity is a crucial factor in production performance of firms and nations.’

“Please tell me how this relates to being a physician or a patient? We do not produce anything. Rather, we work with individuals to diagnosis, prevent, treat, and hopefully improve both longevity and quality of life.”

“‘Productivity’ implies that we can count patient units. That idea really disrupts the essential ‘why’ question?

“If you are unfamiliar with ‘why,’ I highly recommend Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why. Why did we become physicians? I think the answer for most physicians includes helping individual patients. We strive to do our best for each patient.”

“‘Productivity’ implies that seeing more patients each day is a good thing. But likely most patients and physicians will agree that we need to optimize the time with each patient. How many patients can we comfortably see in one day and deliver high-quality care? High-quality care does not refer to performance measures, but complex multi-dimensional factors that improve the patient experience. For many patients, talking is both therapeutic and diagnostic. We shorten our conversation time at the risk of diagnostic errors, higher healthcare costs, and dissatisfied, confused patients.”

To read all of Dr.  Centor’s essay, please hit this link.


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