Doctors Don’t Understand the “Value” of the Service They Provide

Throughout the last 20 years or so, I have gained a lot of information and insight into how doctors really think about, and understand (or don’t understand), various topics. The greatest amount of information and understanding has come through personal relationships with doctors as a business partner, advisor, consultant, coach, or friend.

Here are just some of the many things I have learned about doctors:

  • Most doctors are upset about the way the current “system” works, and have been for some time. A few doctors are becoming vocal about their frustrations and anger
  • Most doctors don’t understand the powers that they have
  • Many doctors are complaining about “mid-levels” – NPs and PAs – doing the “same” work as doctors, but have 18,000 hours less training
  • Most doctors maintain a strange combination of ignorance and arrogance when it comes to things beyond their understanding and training
  • Almost all doctors have no understanding of basic economics, especially as it relates to “value.” More specifically, most doctors do not understand their value in the marketplace.

This post is about helping doctors see what their true value is in the marketplace. And, it has very little to do with their 20,000 hours of training.

Because those 20,000 hours include ZERO hours of basics economics, we must start with a basic lesson.

The economic theory of value attempts to explain the exchange value of goods and services.

Without goin into great detail, there are essentially 2 main – and opposing – theories of economic value.

  • Intrinsic (or Objective) Theory of Value – This theory holds that something has value “just because” or because it “just is.”
  • Subjective Theory of Value – This theory holds that value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Yet, it doesn’t matter how beautiful you think you are; it’s about how beautiful others think you are.

Most doctors tend to believe, without thinking about it, that their value to society is intrinsic. I know this because the doctor’s default argument is always to point to the “20,000 hours” of work they did before becoming a doctor.

This belief is similar to a subset of Intrinsic Theory known as the Labor Theory of Value. This theory asserts that the value of a product is determined by the amount of labor required to produce. (If you believe this to be true, then go dig a hole and wait for someone to pay you.)

However, this is not how the marketplace actually works. Your value to other – whether as a person, business, product, or service – is not based on what you believe it to be, but as to what others perceive your value to be. That is, how important are you to them?

Value is neither determined by any inherent property of the service you provide nor by the amount of labor (training) to produce your service.

Now don’t get me wrong…I am NOT saying that the study, training, and 20,000 hours of supervised care doesn’t matter. It really does. This is where expertise begins. (True expertise combines training and experience.)

But if you truly believe – even after reading this post and studying some basic economics on your own – that TRAINING is what gives you value in the marketplace, then you will never understand why your vocation continue to lose validity. (Why are you working more hours and have more responsibilities than you used to while your pay – real income – continues to decline?)

If you are a doctor reading this and you are willing to consider a different view than your own, consider this:

  • In the marketplace, the consumer is ultimately sovereign. That is, the one who pays for a service decides what the service is and how much they will pay.
  • Most people – patients – want a physician, not a “provider.” The same cannot be said for hospital administrators and insurance companies

If you want to go further with your introspection, consider these questions:

  • Are you a physician or a “provider?”
  • Who is the consumer of the service you are providing? Is it a hospital/insurance company, or is it a patient?

If your consumer is NOT a patient – and if you’re being replaced but NPs and PAs – you are seen by hospital administrators and insurance companies as a white coat factory worker – an interchangeable part – and provide no more value to THEM than an NP or PA.

If you would like to learn about how to take control of your life and want to steal medicine back in your own life, you owe it to yourself to attend the Impact Physician Workshop & Retreat.