New medical society president says physicians need more say in health care system

Dec 30, 2013

Health care, and particularly the world of physicians, is changing. The new president of the Onondaga County Medical Society says it’s a result of a business model that ends up limiting how doctors do their jobs.

Dr. David Halleran says over the past couple of decades, the business model of medicine has focused on profits and efficiency. And he believes that has created a more disparate medical community.

“You have primary care, you have sub-sub-specialists, there’s always an iniquity historically, that’s sort of gotten out of balance to some extent," said Halleran. "You have people coming out of medical school with a quarter of a million or more in debt, and very little way of paying for that.”

And he says that leads to a shortage of primary care physicians -- specifically those who will accept Medicare patients. The other thing this business model does, says Halleran, is give doctors less and less say in how they deliver patient care.

"People say no, we don’t do that, we don’t interfere with doctors. Yes they do. They de facto do.  They won’t pay for things. They won’t approve things. They de facto practice medicine and limiting choices," he said. "Not to say that doctors should be carte blanche and not accountable, but I would think, with what we have to go through these days, we’re one of the most accountable group of people in this country.”

Halleran believes one of the answers is to have doctors represented under one umbrella when it comes to lobbying government. So he would like to see membership increase in the Onondaga County Medical Society, to help with lobbying efforts, especially on a statewide level.

Dr. Halleran also says as president of the society, he will encourage more collegiality among physicians, offering them opportunities to get together outside the office, which he believes could lead to greater collaboration.

"We used to hang out in the lunch room in the cafeterias in the hospital. Doctors aren’t doing that, they’re running from here to there. Their offices are off site anymore. And it’s a different world.  You get up in the morning and you put your roller skates on and you go to work and you work hard and you don't really have time to sit down and catch up with friends and colleagues.”