Myth of the Millionaire M.D.

In a world that believes that every doctor wearing a white coat is an instant millionaire, people will be surprised to find out that more than half of the nation’s primary care physicians are discontented with their income.  Doctors are some of the highest paid professionals in the country, and yet according to a recent study by Medscape, 54 percent of them believe that they are not fairly compensated. Why is this?

Maybe because of incidents like the one Dr. Peterson had to deal with.  After opening his new practice, the kind and competent plastic surgeon spent time performing reconstructive surgery on patients with breast cancer, paraplegics, and even burn victims.  After receiving an emergency call at 3 a.m., Dr. Peterson spent three hours repairing lacerations on a man who had fallen off a roof while heavily intoxicated. Less than a week later, he spent eight hours reconstructing broken facial bones and transferring muscle to heal the patient’s broken legs.  After two months of caring for the patient on a daily basis, Dr. Peterson didn’t receive a “thank you” from his patient or, more importantly, a reimbursement check from the patient’s insurance. When questioned about the check for $3,200, the patient simply replied:

“I cashed and spent it.  You’re a rich doctor. I need the money more than you.”

The above example is just one of many in the medical world where independent physicians are struggling to keep their practices afloat. Revenue is declining, costs are increasing, more and more time is going uncompensated and yet surveys show that most Americans believe that doctors are overpaid. According to an article in The New York Times , the average base pay for managing directors at Morgan Stanley is $400,000. At Goldman Sachs, it’s $600,000. The average salary of an NFL player is $1.9 million. NBA players average $5.15 million per year.  Yet, a pediatrician making $156,000 annually seems unreasonable?  Perhaps it’s because people are oblivious to the fact that many physicians see 50 patients a day, work 65 hours a week and answer calls at all hours. They certainly must not take into account the four years of college, four years of medical school and the three to eight years of residency training that leave physicians in debt prior to becoming a real, practicing doctor.

Unlike the mainstream school of thought that doctors are paid more than enough, Hello Health knows how important and even necessary it is for independent physicians to be able to generate revenue. In a profession where its members are often required to work for free, Hello Health allows medical professionals to get paid for all of their work with a subscription-based business model and provides opportunity for new direct-pay services.  We can’t assure you a “thank you” from every person that comes to your office, but we can help strengthen your level of patient engagement while you gain returns on your technology investment.  We can’t promise a waiting room full of gratitude, but we can supply you with a practical, portable business model that will help your practice make more money from existing patients or new revenue centers without increasing risk.

In the 1985 American Journal of Public Health, a survey showed that 70 percent of respondents believed that doctors are overpaid.  Hello Health realizes the absurdity behind the large numbers of people who have no idea how many doctors are struggling to make profit.  With a free EHR that focuses on the creation of new top-line revenue, we want to help you achieve your goal of running a successful practice without being weighed down by financial burden.

About the Author
Steven Ferguson

Steven Ferguson is the Chief Operating Officer at Hello Health, the complete Cloud-Based EHR, Practice Management System and Patient Portal, that helps practices be more efficient and increase patient engagement.