2 business moves pulling physicians from care, per 1 oncology leader

The implementation of IT solutions that pull physicians away from patients and moving profits to payer groups are two issues that concern John Montville, executive director of the oncology service line at Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Ky.

"First, the world of IT and the EHR have made it more challenging for providers to do what they love: practice medicine" Mr. Montville told Becker's. "What was once the promise of IT to improve the role of providers and to make them more efficient has done little of that and, in many cases, have pulled them further from the important patient interaction that is key to good healthcare. They spend too much time 'clicking' and staring at screens and too little time in front of patients. And, perhaps, partially due to this, we are seeing major shortages of providers as fewer young people enter the field."

Secondly, the transfer of revenues in healthcare from hospitals and systems to payers and investors is an accelerating trend. 

"For many, many years, declining reimbursements to healthcare providers have led to obscene profits in payer groups and companies and for their investors," he said. "And the saddest part is the amount of this revenue toward hospitals and health systems that is geared toward improving health in the communities they serve. That mission to be a partner in the health of the communities they serve is jeopardized every time a dollar is taken out of the hands of hospitals, health systems, and providers and put into the hands of an insurance company."

Mr. Montville pointed to newer initiatives — "from white bagging/brown bagging for pharmaceuticals and attempts to move sites of care to less expensive and, often, more dangerous sites of care all in the pursuit of higher insurance company profits" — as forms of a money grab.

"I think the only way we will be able to level this out is with state and federal government intervention to protect the rights and safety of patients and to ensure payers do not take things too far," he said.

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