Rothschild Discusses the Ruling’s Implications for Consumers and Vitals, a Leading Site for Doctor Information and Reviews
June 28, 2012 – New York, N.Y. – As the leading website for finding doctors and patient reviews, Vitals has always been concerned about improving the relationship between doctors and patients. With the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision to support healthcare reform, Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals, shares his thoughts on the implications of this bill for patients and doctors:
“In this country, the economic model of supply and demand is at work. This is equally true in the relationship between doctors and their patients. While Baby Boomers age and place greater demands on the healthcare system, medical schools have continued to graduate only a finite number of doctors each year. In fact, in the last half-century only one new medical school has opened in this country. Add to that a physician population that is aging rapidly. The American Medical Association found that by 2009, 45 percent of physicians were aged 55 and older.
As the supply of qualified doctors remains unchanged, the new healthcare law requires 30 million more Americans to have health insurance. This flood of new demand will inevitably cause a major disruption to the system. For the unchanging supply of doctors, it will mean less time to spend with patients in examination rooms and with follow-up care. For patients, it will mean appointments will become harder to schedule and wait times longer.
One only needs to look at the model in Massachusetts to see the effect that sudden, increased demand has on patient access to doctors. According to the Massachusetts Medical Society, not only are more than half of primary care doctors not accepting new patients, but wait times to see those doctors are 48 days, on average. That’s an increase of 9 days from pre-healthcare reform in the state.
As a way to meet this unsatisfied demand, the marketplace for various physician extenders will likely expand. Nurse Practitioners and Physician Associates will take on a more important role in diagnosing and treating patients. Retail clinics will become the norm for routine care. Even medical tourism is likely to see a boon as patients plan vacations around treatments abroad, rather than wait for openings in a surgeon’s tight schedule.
It will also necessitate that everyone in healthcare begin to remedy the inefficiencies that have been part of the system for too long. Technology will need to play a greater role in every facet of care, whether through simple, time-efficient email consults between patients and doctors, or more complex robotic surgeries performed in efficient assembly line sequence from remote locations.
This new era of healthcare will also mandate better results. Accountable care organizations will be required to adhere to best practices in medicine and it will be hard for doctors to stick with treatment regimens that defy statistics on best outcomes. This is a win for patients since it promotes responsible, thoughtful medicine.
No reform is easy. But when healthcare costs our country more than $2.6 trillion each year, the equivalent of France’s entire GDP, change is inevitable. As CEO of Vitals, I’m excited to be part of this new healthcare landscape and look forward to providing patients with additional innovative tools to help them find the best and most accessible care available.”
Vitals empowers consumers with the tools and services they need to take charge of their health. Vitals is the only website dedicated to helping patients find doctors that meet their needs, request appointments and prepare for their visit with our condition-specific Patient Guides. Used by over 9 million people each month, Vitals makes it easy for patients to find and connect with quality medical care. Visit Vitals on Facebook or connect with Vitals on Twitter.