How To Fix the Doctor/Patient Relationship
Alejandro Badia, MD, is the owner and operator of Badia Hand to Shoulder Center in Doral, FL, located near Miami. He’s spent 30 years ‘in the trenches’ of the U.S healthcare system, from his undergraduate work at Cornell University to medical school at NYU, and fellowships that took him everywhere from Pittsburgh to Germany.
By 2005, Dr. Badia co-founded the Miami Anatomical Research Center (M.A.R.C.), one of the world’s largest surgical cadaveric training labs, and three years later he completed the Badia Hand to Shoulder Center, a fully integrated clinical facility for the upper limb also encompassing the Surgery Center at Doral, rehabilitation and an MRI imaging facility.
Recently, he’s focused on his work as the founder of OrthoNOW®, the first intermediate orthopedic urgent care center in South Florida. OrthoNOW® was officially franchised in early 2013 and is actively engaging healthcare entrepreneurs and surgeons, in North America and abroad, to open immediate orthopedic care facilities.
Dr Badia hasn’t sat on his laurels once in his 30-year career. He continues to push for more, strives to achieve and never settles – and he demands the same of his colleagues and the profession in general. It’s what drove him to author Healthcare From the Trenches, his insider’s account of the numerous barriers to providing optimal care to patients from a doctor’s perspective.
“I started writing about a year ago,” said Dr. Badia. “It’s a project that had been on my mind for a while, and as my frustrations increased, so did my desire to write. And when COVID-19 hit, it became the majority of my focus. I’d spend entire days, 12-14 hours, writing.”
The result is a thorough dissection of the U.S. healthcare system, lamenting the inefficiencies that plague the system from top to bottom. But at the crux of the matter is one central theme. “There is too much interference,” said Dr. Badia, “in the doctor-patient relationship.”
The COVID-19 pandemic did little to change Dr. Badia’s thinking, though he believes the fallout has revealed some of the systemic flaws to the consumer.
Over a 30-year career, a hundred small annoyances can build into the type of problems Dr. Badia discusses. For example, in the past people saw doctors, they saw dentists, they saw medical professionals of varying expertise. Today, they’re all loosely grouped together as healthcare ‘providers.’
“That’s an insurance term,” said Dr. Badia. “I think these physicians have worked hard to earn that title of doctor, while provider is more of an all-encompassing term. I don’t mind it, per se, when we’re discussing things from a business point of view, but now we hear patients using it, and that’s symbolic of the problem. There’s been an incredible penetration of outside forces interfering in healthcare to the point that they’re now changing the lingo.
In his schedule, Dr. Badia sets aside Mondays to see new patients, who have almost universally been to other doctors before ultimately visiting his office. “It’s hard to access the right care at the right time,” he said, “and every decision I make is met with incredible interference from outside forces.”
One such day, he saw a woman with a fracture in her hand and wrist, and thanks to the versatility of his office setup, was able to schedule her for an almost-immediate surgery. But there was one problem – the woman’s insurance wouldn’t approve same-day procedures. “How is it that somewhere along the line, the insurance company actually started practicing medicine?” Dr. Badia asked incredulously.
Ultimately, the woman waited a full week for the procedure. “I know it didn’t really change anything,” said Dr. Badia, “except that it was inconvenient for the patient, it drove up costs, and most importantly, it delayed the care. And for what? Because somebody sitting at a desk interjected themselves into the relationship between the patient and me.”
How do we fix the problem? Dr. Badia’s seven-step process, outlined in Healthcare From the Trenches, focuses on empowering doctors while returning insurance companies to more of a supporting role. The plan:
- Involve healthcare providers in the healthcare conversation—not just politicians, lobbyists, and insurance administrators who have no medical training or experience in patient care.
- Get rid of the middle-man—administrators and insurance companies—in the healthcare system to create a more efficient and less bloated system. Additional administrators only add to the cost of healthcare while doing nothing to contribute to actual care.
- Require Hospitals and Health Insurance companies become Non-Profit. Eliminate multi-million dollar salaries to executives for ‘withholding’ care to keep costs down and their paychecks UP!
- Encourage more all-in-one facilities so patients do not need to wait weeks for results they should be able to see in a few hours. Not only does this streamline care, but it significantly reduces costs as well.
- Require increased transparency in healthcare pricing.
- Teach Doctors to collaborate rather than compete. They must stand together in the healthcare debate, offering solutions rather than capitulating to lobbyists and insurance companies.
- Educate the public on the issues doctors and patients face from today’s inefficient healthcare system. Change can only come from a public that demands it.
“The healthcare system shouldn’t answer to Wall Street investors,” Dr. Badia summarized. “Rather, the profits should go back into providing care. I don’t think the insurance companies should go away, I’m not for full government healthcare. I’m for tweaking the current system, not overhauling it completely. This shouldn’t be a political issue. My hope is that a broader discussion of the issues can be a catalyst to positive change.”
For your own Kindle or paperback copy of Healthcare From the Trenches, visit https://healthcarefromthetrenches.com/.