How Market Culture Is Transforming Medical Care

Dr. Sandeep Jauhar has written a poignant essay in the New York Times about the degradation of his medical practice by creeping commercial concerns. Instead of being able to dispense their best medical care, physicians are constantly worrying about reimbursement rates and insurance coverage. Many steer patients to expensive diagnostic tests in which they own a financial interest.

Quoting an essay by Dr. Pamela Hartzband and Dr. Jerome Groopman in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Jauhar writes, “Price tags are being applied to every aspect of a doctor’s day, creating an acute awareness of costs and reimbursement…..Today’s medical students are being inducted into a culture in which their profession is seen increasingly in financial terms.”

In his own words, Dr. Jauhar continues: “Among my colleagues I sense an emotional emptiness created by the relentless consideration of money. Most doctors went into medicine for intellectual stimulation or the desire to develop relationships with patients, not to maximize income. There is a palpable sense of grieving. We strove for so long, made so many sacrifices, and for what? In the end, for many, the job has become only that ?” a job.” Collegiality, cooperation and teamwork are diminishing as market norms sweep through hospitals and physicians’ offices.

Photo by heather, , via Flickr, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, NonCommercial, No Derivatives license.