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The Clinical Divide: Preventative Care & Physician Misconduct


How data analytics could prevent the world’s most devastating diseases, and how C-suites should handle physician misconduct.

Can data analytics prevent the world's most costly and most devastating diseases? We might find out soon. With data there is power and the power of data provides physicians and hospital executives with a unique opportunity to impact patients all over the world.

Next, what about doctors behaving badly? How should healthcare handle doctor misconduct? While thankfully rare, some physicians make very poor non-clinical decisions that can negatively impact patients and discredit entire organizations. Doctors and healthcare executives must have a plan of action when these unfortunate incidents do occur.

Welcome to the Clinical Divide. I'm Dr. Kevin Campbell. I'm a Duke-trained cardiologist, and CEO of the health data startup PaceMate. Every week, this Healthcare Analytics News video series examines the top news stories and controversies in medicine and technology. I bring my very unique perspective in the hope that these views will help physicians and healthcare executives bridge the Clinical Divide.

Preventative Care

Analytics, engagement and prevention. Our first story is about Project Baseline. This new 10,000-person study could help us better understand what happens before a patient contracts a disease. Researchers from Stanford, Duke and the Google-owned startup Verily hope to discover biomarkers that could empower all of us to better predict cancer, heart disease and more. But this study won't wrap up for at least four years. However, the results could change completely the way we think about healthcare in the US.

Finally, we may be moving from a culture of treatment to a culture of prevention. Just think, this could save millions of lives worldwide and prevent suffering from chronic disease.

At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta is working on a program called Million Hearts 2022. This is all about increasing patient engagement to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

As we've discussed on this program many times, this season, an engaged patient is a healthier patient. Patient engagement facilitates better communication and cooperation between doctor and patient. And this ultimately leads to better outcomes, which is what we all want.

>>> Read: Biomarker Diagnostics Company Lands $23M

Each project is different, but they're both geared towards improving our ability to prevent disease. And prevention must, must, must be a common goal for all of the stakeholders in healthcare. C-suite executives want to cut costs tied to complex and chronic disease, such as readmissions, chronic care, and complications of these diseases. They're expensive. Doctors strive to keep patients healthy, and we also want our patients to have a better quality and quantity of life.

Ultimately, no matter where you sit, whether it's in the C-suite or in the operating room, we all want better outcomes for our patients. But for any preventative-type system to work, executives have to spend money and assign the right people to the job.

Even if it doesn't seem like an immediate revenue generator, the return on investment from preventative care is long term, and can be a game changer in the US healthcare system. We doctors must commit to collecting and interpreting the necessary data to predict which patients are at risk. Once we identify who's at risk, we must intervene early.

Physicians must be rewarded for their preventative efforts, which is something that really doesn't happen nowadays. When we begin to reward prevention and preventative care, you'll likely see more physicians working harder to prevent a disease, rather than to simply treat it with expensive procedures, drugs and devices.

Physician Misconduct

Let's move on to a rather uncomfortable topic to discuss on the program: Physician misconduct. The reality is, just like with other professions, not all doctors are well intended. Some doctors behave badly. What should we do?

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been horror stories of physicians abusing their patients and the system. They've surfaced in multiple publications. Thankfully this misconduct and abuses are rare, but because even one case is too many, this is a problem that needs our attention right now.

>>> Read: Why C-Suites Need to Get a Grip on Physician Burnout

Doctors and administrators must work together to self-police and ensure that no patients are violated sexually, physically, emotionally or otherwise. Physicians must be able to report observed or suspected indiscretions quickly and confidently without repercussion.

C-suites must establish trusted pathways for this kind of reporting. We must take patients and their claims of misconduct very seriously. Patient abuses, as well as fraud and financial crimes must be handled with swift action and severe consequences.

The stakes are big. For one, no one who seeks medical care should instead face misconduct or assault. Each case harms the individual, their families and the credibility of the hospital and the larger healthcare system. Plus there's a whole lot of money at stake for institutions where this abuse may have occurred.

Just ask the University of Southern California, which just settled claims of a sexual harassment case by a gynecologist for $215 million. Healthcare is already expensive and we cannot allow fraud by physicians or healthcare systems to occur and go unreported and unchecked.

Fraud can occur at any level -- administration, healthcare system leadership, as well as at the physician level. We all have a responsibility to act when we see things that are questionable occurring in the workplace. It's part of our job.

Thank you for once again joining me for this episode of the Clinical Divide. Until next week, I'm Dr. Kevin Campbell for Healthcare Analytics News.

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More Episodes of The Clinical Divide:

Physician Burnout

Wearables, Patient Engagement & Injectable Cholesterol Drugs

Ridesharing, Mergers and MSK in Hindsight

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