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Looking Downstream

Rick Johnson, for HealthLeaders Media, January 3, 2008
I wrote a column late last year that I called "Looking Upstream," in which I shared some predictions about the healthcare industry. Now that 2007 is behind us, I thought it proper to look back at some of the issues PhysicianLeaders has covered.

We re-launched this e-newsletter June 7 of last year to make it more content rich and visually pleasing. Since then, we've had 27 weekly issues. The best part of this beat is interacting with readers and industry insiders. It has been an enriching and enlightening journey, and I look forward to continuing my coverage of physician-related topics in 2008.

One of the benefits of being an online reporter is the immediate feedback I get from readers. No doubt the story of 2007 that garnered the greatest response was a recent article I called My Generation. It was a pithy list of complaints I've heard about Gen-X physicians. Reader feedback was split as to whether these opinions are accurate. An online poll on HealthLeadersMedia.com found that 45 percent of users say Gen X and Y physicians are inferior to previous generations, 29 percent say they are comparable, and 25 percent say they are superior.

Another aspect of online reporting is that analytic software lets me determine which stories were the most widely read. Below is a list of the most popular PhysicianLeaders stories of 2007--I think you can tell by some of these headlines that I've had a lot of fun crafting this e-newsletter.

I'm Going To Sue You--Just think how much less stressful life would be if you could discern your patients' true intentions. After all, if you knew a patient was prone to sue, you could take early action to protect your interests. Healthcare attorney James W. Saxton points out how to spot the patients that might put you at risk.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow--One benefit to my hairstyle--or lack thereof--is that despite life's frustrations, I cannot pull my hair out. This inspired me to ask some of my physician friends about the top issues that make physician leaders want to pull out their hair. I'm sure the five items mentioned are not exhaustive, so feel free to let me know what you'd add to the list.

Doctor Paycheck--Consider all the ways hospitals nowadays are attempting to fortify physician relations. With a looming shortage of primary care providers, hospital executives have to come up with strategies to maintain referrals and ensure care in their communities. Executives frequently tell me about their plans to increase the number of employed physicians.

The Beautiful People --The estimated 5,000 medical group professionals who attended the MGMA's annual conference last October sure improved the aesthetics of the City of Brotherly Love. In this column I provide a rundown of HealthLeaders Media's online coverage of the conference.

Looking Upstream--Toward the end of last year I was on the road quite a bit, interacting in person with healthcare administration and physician leaders. In my conversations with these industry experts, I've asked them to forecast changes that will have the most impact on physicians. In this column, I present five predictions for the near-future.

I hope over the past six months you've found something of interest in these and other columns, as well as reader-contributed pieces, podcasts, and online articles from HealthLeaders magazine. As I told a colleague of mine recently, writing for HealthLeaders Media is a pleasure--and that, I believe, is a testament to the good will and engagement of the professionals in this continually shifting industry.

As always, let me know if you have comments, questions, or suggestions. I like to think of this e-newsletter as a joint venture I have with my readers. My articles can only improve from your feedback.

Happy New Year! I wish you all the best for 2008.


Rick Johnson is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media. He can be reached at rjohnson@healthleadersmedia.com.

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