Dr. Eric Topol: Physicians need a medical association not focused on business

Driven by new technologies and beckoned by manmade threats to public health, medicine has reached a unique turning point that should compel physicians to organize as a single political force, according to a column published in The New Yorker by cardiologist Eric Topol, MD, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.  

Physicians do not typically strike, mobilize or advocate as a collective group, Dr. Topol notes. "Many people suspect that doctors suffer from a congenital inability to control their own destinies," he writes. "Medical culture seems data-centric, conservative, heads-down, apolitical. And — surely — doctors are too busy."

However, with the administrative burden of EHRs, changing reimbursement formulas and staggering rates of burnout, maybe they should. Existing medical associations represent only a fraction of the nation's more than 1 million physicians, and often focus only on the business aspect of healthcare. When medical associations do dabble in patient care and public health issues, it is often "muted," and "confined to written communications in medical journals or position statements that are only sometimes announced at press conferences," he writes.

Meanwhile, patients face threats ranging from gun violence to anti-vaccine activism to misinformation on social media. And the practice of medicine stands to be completely transformed by artificial intelligence and other new technologies. Dr. Topol believes now is the time for a physician revolution.

Read the full column here.

 

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