Lately, I’ve been wrestling with an issue that I’m sure many bloggers face: should I try to increase the quantity of blog posts or accept a reduce number of posts in the interest of maintaining the quality (or, more specifically, the originality) of posts. Said another way: is it better to get a post up one or more times a day to drive traffic or is it better to get one really good post up less frequently?
Gosh, come to think of it, this same conundrum will soon pertain to health care delivery, too. Blogging and patient care are not too dissimilar.
When starting a blog, lots of posts placed very often helps drive blog traffic provided, of course, that the content is not just spam. Adding unique ideas or adding appropriate commentary to stories that appear on the web adds value for a reader and grows readership.
Likewise, when starting out as a new doctor you need lots of cases with good outcomes to develop a following. People have to get to know you. Volume of cases that go well builds trust amongst your peers. Early on you’ve got to get out there and develop a track record – how else will people know your talents?
And like the blog-o-sphere, as time goes on as trust is gained, friends refer friends. Things ramp up and you hit a stride and become more efficient - a well-oiled machine. It’s great.
But with this added volume come new issues. The pressures to produce more and more grows whether written or surgical. The potential to grow revenues with more volume in both fields exists.
That’s the reality in business-related ventures.
But in each of these endeavors, time remains the one constant. Eventually more of anything reaches its capacity, and whether blogger or physician, we all must make a choice: do I continue building quantity at the expense of the quality of my work? Clearly for me, the choice is no. Limits must be set lest my quality on either front suffer.
Lately, I am finding new patients are having a harder and harder time getting appointments with me. My established patients remain. Like a blog, I must make a choice - see more patients in less time, refer my established patients to others, or cut my volumes. Or maybe I should use physician "extenders" to help with me the load? Might they be like using ghostwriters?
In the years to come doctors will continue to be tasked with seeing more patients in less time with a constant pressure to reduce costs to the system (and hence, their salaries). You simply can’t add millions of more people to our health care system in our new era of “health insurance reform” and not expect that the demand for clinical care will diminish and the associated costs decline. As price pressures mount, the pressure to cut "overhead" expenses will grow and adding more expensive doctors to the system to offload the pressure-head will not be as simple as it sounds. So for now, our greatest challenge will be to see more patients in less time with less salary without affecting health care quality.
And the truth be told: like blogging, something has to give.