The new role of physician

The field of healthcare has undergone massive changes in recent years, such as clinical protocols, care delivery or technology-assisted care. What has this meant for physicians?

Michael Davis, MD, chief of urology and surgical director of the renal transplant program at UNM Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, joined Becker's to discuss the ever-evolving role of the physician. 

Editor's note: This response was lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How has the role of physician changed in the last five years?

Dr. Michael Davis: The traditional role of a physician has been to administer clinical care. The role has changed and expanded over time. Especially in the last five years, as the environment of healthcare has been impacted by multiple factors.  

The most impactful event to change the role of the physician has been the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID disrupted healthcare with accelerated innovation in technology-based healthcare, and increased the ability of physicians and other providers to offer healthcare in a fashion that did not involve brick and mortar facilities. Thus, physicians had to embrace technology and have technologic knowledge like no other time in the history of healthcare. 

As technology continues to evolve, so does the expansion of the physician role, using this technology as an adjunct to provide care. Artificial intelligence is the most modern example of technology that may help to disrupt some of the traditional roles in healthcare. Examples included image analysis, administrative duties, scheduling and messaging. Physicians will learn to use this technology to increase efficiency and patient satisfaction. Hopefully, this technology can also be used to increase physician satisfaction and decrease burnout. Once again, the role of physicians integrating IT into practice will only expand.

The role of the physician in cost containment and value-based initiatives has continued to expand in the past five years as COVID negatively impacted hospital margins and had a large impact on the healthcare workforce. The days of fee for service continue to decrease as more physicians are employed and have to be cognizant of the cost while still delivering the highest quality care. The burden of the aging population will only increase the need to rein in costs while also meeting the goals of patient-centered care and preventative population-based care.

Finally, with all of the above changes in healthcare, the role of the physician leader is likely to be more important than ever before and another example of the expanded role of the physician. Physicians, like those in other industries, need to be able to navigate the policy and regulatory environments, negotiate with payers and pursue the relevant resources that contribute to high-quality care and safety. Physician leadership needs to pursue fair remuneration for services while also mitigating the risks of burnout in a decreasing workforce and increased demand for service. Physician representation in policy and regulatory decisions is more important than ever.

As physicians, we all feel that we take on multiple roles including physician, clerk, transcriptionist, IT professional, among other things. The last five years have emphasized the diversity of the physician role that will only continue to evolve.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Podcast