Skip to main content

Why it’s beneficial for independent physicians to stay on top of health policy

rules 2076442 1280
Why it’s beneficial for independent physicians to stay on top of health policy

Why it’s beneficial for independent physicians to stay on top of health policy August 14, 2017

Health policy is affecting the way physicians work and receive reimbursement now more than ever before, but there are other reasons why independent primary care physicians should care about health policy.

While doctors are in their residency training they learn a lot about the workings of the human body in even more detail then when they were in medical school, but they are usually not exposed to health policy all that often. They are much more focused on serving and treating patients, and while that is the main part of their duties, they should be more informed about current health policies, especially when theses policies help or hurt their patients.

A university in Washington D.C. is trying to change this; they have established a three-week fellowship in health policy for medical residents where they not only hear lectures from policy experts but also visit Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, federal and local health-related agencies as well as local health care facilities.

This point in a physician’s career is the best time to open their eyes to the workings of health policy in the U.S. In their residency they have had time to get up close and personal with the healthcare system unlike they have before, and with being in the midst of everything they’re able to see flaws that so many physicians have overlooked. When anyone is shown something new they assess it and think of ways in which the process or system can be fixed, it is in essence the equivalent of an outsider looking into a situation; they can see what others cannot.

There is so much going on in the healthcare industry right now as well as the health policies in the U.S. and more independent primary care physicians are trying to familiarize themselves so that they can better serve their patients. Understanding these policies can help to improve them and to help out patients who may need support or something other than being treated.

Physicians are currently trained to not worry about the cost of services when helping patients, even though doctors provide the most expensive services that any American spends their money on.

Neel Shah, an OB-GYN in Boston and a health policy researcher at Harvard has said, “”Clinical training teaches you to be a terrible steward of health care resources in every way, when you’re being chastised as a trainee, it’s always for the things that you didn’t do but could have. It’s never for the things you did do but didn’t have to do. When, of course, patients can be harmed both ways.”

There are other ways to help out patients besides treating them; pointing them in the right direction, maybe towards financial aid for their healthcare costs, to counseling, or to a healthcare clinic, can be exactly what they need. Learning about health policy and understanding how it works and what can be or needs to be fixed, can truly help out patients in another aspect of care.