VENTURA COUNTY: Medical Society Head Revamps Doc Image
Faced with HMO backlash in a county which has one of the longest histories of managed care, Ventura County's new medical society president is attempting to heal physicians' tarnished image, the Los Angeles Times reports. Dr. Allen Hooper said, "We have an identity crisis. Physicians can be seen as either the bad guy or the good guy. And what we need to do are things in the community to show that the physician really is the advocate of the patient, instead of caring only about ourselves." Hooper said that physicians are partly to blame for the surge of managed care that stripped doctors of much of their authority. "Patients thought physicians only worried about their financial interests. And that allowed HMOs to take over the business of medicine. But now we're also seeing legislation to force the HMOs to be responsible to patients' needs. So as things start to fall apart for the HMOs, we can reassert ourselves as advocates for the patients," he said. As part of its effort to foster a patient-friendly image, the county medical society "recently endorsed a nonprofit patient advocacy group ... gave its workers three free offices" in downtown Ventura and is hosting "a new weekly medical talk show at Cal Lutheran University's local public radio station." Hooper also asserted that improving doctors' business acumen will go a long way, saying, "People in medicine are no more greedy than people in any other profession. But physicians are notoriously poor businessmen. And have not had systems in place to help them as we should." As for the doctor-patient relationship, Hooper said doctors are tired of the 90s' trend of treating patients like customers or clients. "We want to elevate their status to partner, instead of treating them as a supplicant" (Kelley, 2/1). Click here for previous coverage of Ventura County.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.