If managed care and Medicare reductions are taking their toll on your income, you can always hawk snake oil and other elixirs.
Well, maybe not snake oil, but anti-aging products are a booming business for physicians who are feeling the pinch of declining reimbursements.
Anti-Aging Associates, a Pompano Beach, Fla.-based producer of growth hormones, has a network of about 90 physicians in 31 states hawking its all-natural, anti-aging product. The company expects its physician network to grow to about 1,200 by next year.
Patients pay out-of-pocket for such physician-prescribed supplements, and Anti-Aging Associates says this cash-based subspecialty could add tens of thousands of dollars to physicians' annual income. The demand for such elixirs is high, as approximately 10,000 baby boomers a week turn 50.
"If people want it, they will happily pay for it out-of-pocket," says Michael Walerstein, the company's managing director. "Frankly, this is the only way doctors are going to survive -- dealing in cash or balancing their practice with cash."
Table and test results for two. Steve Miley, M.D., was waiting to be seated for dinner at T.G.I. Friday's in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., when he saw the inspiration for his new company.
No, he wasn't astounded by the old license plates and cola ads on the walls. Miley was impressed by the computerized guest-seating system, complete with automatic pagers used to alert customers the moment a table is available. That dinner two years ago germinated the idea for the graphically based patient-tracking system Miley's company, Toledo, Ohio-based MedHost, began selling this year.
Instead of tracking who is sitting at what table, MedHost's system monitors which patients are getting what type of care in the emergency room, says Barry Rosen, vice president of marketing. When test results are available, physicians get an automatic page.
The inspiration from Friday's stops there, though. Unlike the restaurant chain's servers, doctors using the MedHost system aren't required to wear big, goofy hats and suspenders laden with kitschy buttons.
If you can't beat 'em. . . Physicians, hypnotists and massage therapists mingling and swapping on-the-job stories? A few years ago, a gathering of such disparate minds would have been unlikely. But last month it happened, and at the venerable Stanford University School of Medicine, no less.
The conference was designed to provide the medical community with practical information about integrating complementary- and alternative-medicine therapies into clinical practice. Sponsors were the Stanford Center for Research in
Disease Prevention; American Specialty Health Plans, an alternative-health managed-care company; and California HMO Health Net.
"Attitudes have changed. Doctors are less uniformly negative than they used to be. They are less inclined to see it as a threat or competition," says David Spiegel, M.D., medical director of the Stanford Complementary Medicine Clinic.
Spiegel says physicians can begin embracing complementary medicine by routinely asking patients if they use it. For most physicians, the next step will be "building a list of reliable complementary practitioners that they're comfortable referring patients to."
At the Stanford clinic, which opened in April, physicians go a step further, providing most of the alternative treatments, along with registered nurses and massage therapists. Spiegel is a psychiatrist who specializes in hypnosis; other doctors administer acupuncture.
Buzzed Brits. If you get injured bringing coals to Newcastle, get treated somewhere else. That seems to be the message in a survey published in the British medical journal the Lancet.
A poll of 114 junior doctors (equivalent to residents) in northeastern England showed that more than 60% drank excessive amounts of alcohol. The poll, conducted by Dr. Farhad Kamali of the University of Newcastle, also showed 35% of male doctors and 19% of female physicians admitted using marijuana, and up to 13% of physicians took other drugs.
A sample of 114 physicians in one area of England would not seem to be sufficient to draw any conclusions, except that the British Medical Association says the survey's results are consistent with its own findings about the country.
Drugs and doctors are a hot topic for America's former landlord. On Sept. 2, the day before the Lancet study was published, Dr. Patrick Dixon, a British AIDS expert and author of a book regarding physician drug use, told the Reuters news service that physicians should be tested for alcohol and drugs.