How Primary Care Physicians Can Save Healthcare

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

Our healthcare system needs some major adjustments. Most everyone agrees with that, but not everyone has solutions.

On this episode of Healthcare Simplified, our guest Dr. Andy Lazris joined us to discuss the major issues with our healthcare system. While we are spending more on healthcare than any other nation, our people are getting sicker, and we are nowhere near the healthiest nations.

About Dr. Lazris

Dr. Andy Lazris is an award-winning doctor, and the creator of the YouTube series, The Running Doc Unhinged. He has always had a passion for helping people, so becoming a doctor was a natural way for him to be able to spend time with people and be able to directly help them through messy times in their lives.

The Problem with Primary Care

When asked why he is so passionate about fixing what ails the current healthcare system, Dr. Lazris went on to talk about the biggest problem he has a seen.

“It starts with that they pick all the wrong people to go to medical school” stated Dr. Lazris. When looking at the people that end up going to medical school, they all have the same characteristics. They are great a standardized tests and memorizing facts, but are they really the best to be taking care of the health of the population?

Most doctors are test prone, meaning their first thought is to run a ton of tests and call in specialists without really thinking about what the main problem could be. In turn, this is frightening patients into thinking they are sicker than they actually are and the doctors are telling them they have these fabricated illnesses and that’s why they are being given test after test after test.

Dr. Lazris says that these are the sickest people because the healthiest people are the ones who don’t let doctors immediately convince them that they are sick.

Unfortunately, this happens because doctors know that the more tests that are given to a patients, the more money they will make. The system is paying doctors to be as inefficient as they can be, which doesn’t make much sense. Ned added that “Inefficiency and unhealthiness is profitable in America.”

But how can we fix this? The main thing that needs to change is that PCPs need to get back to focusing on what matters, making people healthier. Which means, doctor’s need to focus on getting their patients to get healthier on their own, instead of expecting doctors to fix it with surgeries and pills. Dr. Lazris says that “10% of your health is determined by your doctor, but 50% of your health is determined by your own decisions.”

The Medicine Problem

When we (Allegeant) ran a report for the top 10 scripts that went to one of our clients, the per script average was $60,000 to $75,000. This is something that shouldn’t be happening.

We are taught that drugs are going to help people and because of that, drugs are pushed for everything. However, no matter how many doctors say that pills are necessary, there is no data that shows that these pills are helping most people.

Dr. Lazris then went on to give us an example. He constantly sees that people over the age of 75 are being given cholesterol meds. However, there is no data to support that people over 75 will live longer if they take this medication. So why are 50% of people over 75 on cholesterol meds? It’s because doctors are taught to push pills and us as a society, want a “quick fix” pill that will convince us we are being healthier and will live longer because of it.

If you look at the areas of the world that live the longest, they do not live like this. You don’t see them going to the doctors all the time, or taking drugs to “fix” their “health problems”, and they also don’t get tons of diagnoses. “The goal of the American healthcare system is to make people think they’re sick” says Dr. Lazris, because diagnosis are how doctors get paid.

Solving These Issues

There need to be protocols and incentives created for doctors. First, there should be incentives for students to become primary care doctors, instead of going for specialties. Next, primary care doctors should be incentivized to give each patient more time and talk to them about the actual risks and benefits of procedures and medicine. Hopefully, this will cause doctors to have the time and motivation to educate patients on what will actually help them (i.e. physical activity, nutrition, etc.). Lastly, primary care doctors need to be incentivized by results (making people healthier).

“We need a primary care based healthcare system where the patient makes the decision based on accurate information.” – Dr. Lazris

In this country we have been trained to think more is better. So the more a doctor does, it makes us think they are more thorough. But that isn’t true. Doing tons of unnecessary tests can do more harm than good. As a patient, you can take charge of your own health by just eating healthier and exercising and it will save you money.

3 Prescriptions for health

1. Exercise regularly

2. Have a plant-based, low sugar diet

3. Stay away from doctors

If you double the amount of money you spend on primary care, this will cause more people to go in to primary care, which means fewer specialists, and we know that in areas of the country, where there are fewer specialists, health outcomes are better and costs are lowered.

Healthcare is nothing more than a math problem. If you look at the numbers you will see that primary spend is only about 5-8% of the total cost. Which means, if you incentivize primary care doctors in a different way and pay them more, it will end up saving a lot of money.

Running Doc Unhinged Podcast

You can find Dr. Lazris on the “Running Doc Unhinged” podcast on Youtube. He does 5 minute segments about anything in the healthcare world that irritates him. The premise of the show is that he goes for a run, the mid-way he rants about a topic with a friend, then they finish the run. If what he talks about sounds crazy and comical, it’s because our healthcare system right now is crazy.

This blog is based off of our Healthcare Simplified podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Healthcare Simplified.

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