Three wishes: The changes health professionals want


As physicians well know, magic wands don’t exist. If they did, every patient would recover in the exam room, prior authorization wouldn’t exist, and continuing medical education credits would be printed on bearer bonds.

But in the spirit of suspended disbelief, we asked physicians and other contributors what their three wishes would be for their patients, practice/hospital, and health systems. Because, hey – we all need to dream.

Suzanne C. Boulter, MD, adjunct professor of pediatrics and community and family medicine, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, N.H.
Patients: An end to gun violence.
Practice/hospital: Adequate staffing and pediatric bed availability.
Health system: Universal access to health insurance.

Sarah G. Candler, MD, MPH, care team medical director and director of academic relations, Iora Primary Care, Northside Clinic, Houston
Patients: Systems of health that start with communities of safety, including access to affordable housing, food, transportation, and health care.
Practice/hospital: I.N.T.E.R.O.P.E.R.A.B.I.L.I.T.Y.
Health system: Clinician leadership that has the power (often aka funding) to do what’s right, not just what’s right in front of us.

Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, bioethicist, New York University Langone Health
Patients: I wish for patients in the United States greater access to affordable primary care. There are still too many people without insurance or a reasonably accessible quality provider. And I especially wish for the rapid expansion of affordable training programs to meet staffing needs, including more scholarships, 3-year programs, and more new primary care–oriented schools.
Hospital: Increased staffing, especially nursing. There are too many retirements, too much burnout, and too much privatization into boutique practices to ensure the ability to provide high-quality, safe, patient-oriented care.
Health system: I wish for health systems to seriously move into electronic medicine. While billing has become electronic, there is still much to be done to supplement diagnosis, training, and standardized data collection on key metrics. Systems are not yet behaving in a manner consistent with the hype in this regard.

Stephen Devries, MD, executive director, Gaples Institute (nonprofit) and adjunct associate professor of nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston
Patients: Patients continue to demand more from their health care professionals and insist that they are offered evidence-based counseling on nutrition and lifestyle strategies.
Practice: Quality-based reimbursement for medical services will take hold that will incentivize much-needed preventive care.
Hospital: Hospitals will more fully embrace the role of serving as true centers of health and focus as much on preventive medicine as on the more lucrative areas of high-tech treatment.

Peter D. Friedmann, MD, MPH, chief research officer, Baystate Health, Springfield, Mass.
Seconded by: Elisabeth Poorman, MD, general internist, University of Washington Clinic, Kent

Patients: Don’t forget the ongoing epidemic of substance use disorder, a major cause of premature mortality. Descheduling of cannabis and expungement of cannabis-related convictions.
Practice/hospital: Commitment of hospitals and practices to address stigma and ensure delivery of medications for opioid use disorder in primary care, the emergency department, and inpatient settings.
Health system: Reform of antiquated methadone regulations to permit office-based prescription and pharmacy dispensing to treat opioid use disorder, as is the case in most of the world.


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