Can free tech keep docs in practice?

Half the nation's primary care doctors plan to quit within three years even though four-fifths of them realize we have a shortage.

primary care doctor from The Physicians FoundationsThe results were designed to be frightening. As serious as a heart attack.

Half the nation's primary care doctors plan to quit within three years even though four-fifths of them realize we have a shortage.

This was no tiny survey. Some 12,000 physicians filled it out. And nearly all of them are sick to death of paperwork.

Every health care reform plan, whether from the private sector, the insurance industry, or the government, is based on the idea of giving more people access to primary care.

Now those tasked to provide that care say they are going on strike instead. Want medical advice? Learn to be a golf caddy.

Some 94% said their paperwork load was increasing, and 63% said that has meant spending less time with patients. Worse, 60% said, in effect, "Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be doctors."

So the question occurs. Would free technology change minds?

Many insurance companies and hospital groups are pushing practice management and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software down their channels, hoping to cut the paperwork cord.

There are also cheap SaaS solutions available for practice management.

Admittedly there is a learning curve on this, and not all the learning can be done by backroom staff. Doctors still have to learn how to complete the online forms.

That's one reason we're seeing plans to put medical software on iPhones and other devices doctors like to use. My doctor likes toys and I think yours does too.

Now this says nothing about a second key problem, Medicare reimbursements, which the profession is ready to walk out over.

But any labor negotiation covers both wages and working conditions, and if we can give on the latter maybe we can get some serious talk started on the former.