Emergency medicine jobs in 2017 are remarkably different from the jobs of just a decade ago. Today’s emergency rooms still handle things like car accident injuries and heart attacks, but they are also increasingly having to handle cases that really belong in the primary care office. Whether this will ever change or not remains to be seen. But we do owe it to both patients and emergency medicine professionals to do our best to try to fix things.
Nothing comes quickly or easily in healthcare. Nonetheless, we could make great strides if we could implement a few key things listed below. Some of these things require patients to change how they do things. Others would require a new mindset among healthcare providers and facilities. The thing is that we all have to work together to make it better.
1. Simplify Billing and Coding
The average ED is a bureaucratic quagmire thanks to a highly complicated billing and coding system. A process of collecting and submitting information that should take mere minutes takes much longer even on the best of days. A simplified system would mean less time spent on paperwork and more time spent caring for patients. Part-and-parcel with simplified billing and coding is standardization across the entire system. It is long overdue.
2. Limit Available Services
Today’s emergency medicine jobs are as much about primary care as they are trauma and life-threatening illness. Part of the problem lies with a growing number of Americans who now have access to health insurance and Medicaid but no primary care doctor. The other part of the equation is a lack of procedures capable of effectively limiting available services. We somehow have to find a way to get people who belong in a primary care office to go there instead of the ED.
3. Address the Office Politics
It might be hard to believe, but doctors and nurses are not exempt from office politics. More than one emergency medicine doctor has found himself in the position of having to decide whether to handle a difficult case independently or risk the ire of a specialist by calling her in. We need to find a way to encourage greater cooperation. We need to find a way of making the concept of the healthcare team an actual reality.
4. Temper Our Expectations
For generations, Americans have accessed healthcare services under the assumption that our system is the best in the world. Whether true or not, we have allowed ourselves to develop unrealistic expectations of the emergency department and those who staff it. The truth is that everyone involved in emergency medicine is human. No one is perfect; not doctors, nurses, PAs, or NPs. A little understanding goes a long way.
5. Cut Patient Costs
The last of the five ideas is arguably the hardest of all: finding a way to cut patient costs across the entire healthcare system. The high cost of healthcare leads far too many people to ignore what are perceived to be minor issues, in the hope that these will not become major. It is only a matter of time before some of them end up in the emergency department facing a life and death situation that could have been avoided with a little preventative care.
There has to be a way to cut the cost of prescription medicines. There has to be a way to make the most commonly utilized procedures more affordable for the mass market. If we can find a way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses, we can then begin the process of encouraging more primary care in earnest.