Surgeons Working Together
A lawyer sent me an email: "Surgeons are the most egocentric, difficult-to-please, don't-like-to-play-together group in America." He got it all wrong.
Surgeons in all specialties and all places are working together to develop Surgeo, an online gateway by which to simplify consumer access to care. On the eve of ICD10 – which insists on "billable code 1X.FXXA" and not "I burned my finger" – their simple approach stands as refuge from numbing bureaucracy. Their commitment to patients kindles the embers of a thing they call the physician-patient relationship.
The surgeons are talking in clear English. In their world of healthcare transparency, a knee replacement is called a “knee replacement.” They are working in thoughtful ways to include services that in fee-for-service healthcare would require coding consultations. Under their guidance, a bladder neck reconstruction during prostate cancer surgery is included at no extra charge, no extra explanation, and no extra code. The minutiae of ancillary procedures are gone.
The surgeons know that surgical quality matters and they know where to find it. And they are collegial. So the surgeons of Surgeo are bringing their colleagues, the ones they would go to if they needed surgery. They are not looking only at the usual surgeon credentials. They are looking at how they felt the last time they covered each other on weekends or how the other surgeon performed the last time they operated together. Consider three who joined:
• A urologist in Texas
• An orthopedist in California
• An ophthalmologist in New York
All three are highly trained, having undertaken fellowship training in laparoscopic surgery, knee replacement, and vision correction. All are in mid-career, having each care for thousands of patients. All are revered by peers who have done cases with them and would send themselves and their families to them for surgery. They are among the most qualified surgeons anywhere.
As individuals, surgeons can help patients one at a time. As a collective, they can restore sanity, direction, and value to delivery of care. So while the lawyer recited caricature, the reality is different. Surgeons are active, decisive, and thoughtful. They will save American healthcare.