The following questions were excerpted from an Akron Roundtable presentation, "Can we afford to stay healthy?" which was given by Akron General CEO Dr. Thomas "Tim" Stover Oct. 18, 2012.
Q: Since health care is a huge national issue in our presidential campaign – we have federal legislation in place that was enacted a couple of years ago – if it was up to you, if you could identify how federal legislation could assist in the advancement of this wellness program, what are the characteristics that such federal legislation would have in your view?
A: I'd kind of like them to get the hell out of the way. I do believe that there are people who are really sincere who are trying to help this problem and so if you're asking me if there’s any legislation, I would certainly want to make sure the docs are at the table and docs are actually working when those decisions are made. I also think that there is something that needs to be done about incentivization and how health care is reimbursed. PCPs (primary care physician), and especially family practitioners, they are trained to sit down and talk to you.
I'll give this example – a well woman visit. I did them all day, every day. There is no well man visit. You can't go in as a guy and sit down with your PCP and say, "I don’t have anything wrong with me. I just want to talk. I want to talk about my family history, the aunt that died with heart disease, this genomic thing. Do you know anything about this?" And the doc has to say, "No, I can't talk to you about that because I’ve got 30 people to see with snotty noses in the waiting room waiting to get taken care of, and that’s how I get paid." So something has got to change. There's got to be an incentivization for people to talk about the things that need to be talked about.
Q: Doctor, in your remarks you made several mentions to the fact that the way to go in the future is the wellness model as opposed to the sick patient model. One member of our audience would like to know how you would forecast the expanded role of nurses in that type of environment going forward.
A: We don't have enough docs, folks. I heard the other day that pediatric endocrinologists, which is going to be the largest need for the kids that are obese and have diabetes, that there are no pediatric endocrinologists out there. Trying to find them is going to be impossible. We know we're going to have to depend more on mid-levels, which are nurses, nurse practitioners, PAs (physician's assistant), and this whole idea around population health, which we honestly were doing in the 1970s. That's taking one or two providers to a whole community and talking to them about some issues related to their health or their sick care. That has to be done because the reality is there just aren’t enough of us with MD or DO behind our name.