Professional Dystopia: The ObamaDoc

As certainly as the stewardess became a flight attendant, and as garbage collectors became sanitation engineers, we physicians are now health care providers. It has a catchy, culty sound.

Older health care providers like me will slowly be put out to pasture. I am a workaholic, as are most of my fellow old-time doctors. But physicians as a whole are working fewer hours this decade than last -- down to 51 hours a week, from 56. There's a reason for that: the new young physicians this decade are reluctant to put in the time and energy to build a small business that can and will be taken away from them by a bureaucrat. Yet the ObamaDoc will have a better life than I did. Nine to 5, Monday through Friday, with every government holiday off. Perhaps the new health care providers should be unionized -- no different than the teamsters or UAW. Fifteen minutes for every patient visit, absolutely no double booking, equal time for each and every patient. We don't discriminate against race, religion ... or disease process. That's un-progressive. The patient with a hemorrhoid has the same equal rights as that of a patient with chest pain or cancer.

I'll be one of those old physicians telling tales on the front porch of the aged health care providers' mandated nursing home about how I used to see 50 patients in a day, delivered a baby or two at night, and enjoyed it. The new ObamaDocs won't believe me.

President Obama swears the new electronic medical records (EMR) will save us billions, yet it can only possibly save money by taking away choices. What it will do is really great for the ObamaDocs, though: forget professional expertise -- just input the symptoms and the EMR will dictate the drug of choice. Of course, the drug of choice will be the least expensive drug available, never mind if it gives Mrs. Jones an upset stomach or Mr. Smith a headache.

The new EMR will also tell us when and what type of testing needs to be done. Let the system decide if you qualify for a CT scan or MRI. You don't want a physician to decide that! He or she may put emotion or gut feeling into that process.