The Doctor Wounded Wallet Syndrome: Signs and Symptoms

The Doctor Wounded Wallet Syndrome: Signs and Symptoms

Various sick care financial indicators tell us that the industry is struggling to adjust. The vitals signs are somewhat unstable and concerning. In some instances, they are confusing. While aggregate average operating margins for hospitals are dropping, building cranes are littering the landscape in other regions. While care is moving from the hospital to non-hospital locations, operating and profit margin reports are conflicting depending on whether you are reading about a new VA hospital with millions of dollars of cost overruns, or for-profit systems that make Google blush.

Highlights include increasing consolidation, vertical and horizontal mergers, channel innovation, increasing numbers of employed physicians, dissemination and implementation of digical health models and DIY medicine.

In 2014, the last year for which data are available, U.S. health expenditures were more than $3.0 trillion—which breaks down to $9,523 per person. This reflects a growth rate of 5.3 percent over 2013. “In comparison,” the analysis said, “spending grew by 2.9 percent in 2013 and by an average of 4.0 percent per year” from 2007 to 2012. Physician services account for about 16% of the tab.

Here are some 2018 physician compensation stats and trends. Like sick care patient access and costs, there are geographic and specialty specific and gender disparities. It's the ZIP code, stupid.

US healthcare costs exceed other developed countries mostly because our prices are higher.Some day, the house of cards will tumble.

Here are some signs and symptoms of an impending physician compensation collapse:

  1. Anxiety, depression and burnout rates increasing
  2. Higher rates of substance abuse and behavioral disorders
  3. Inability to buy a house except in areas that will require more drive time to work as an employed physician
  4. Increasing interest in non-clinical career development and revenue generation
  5. Increasing rates of billing fraud and abuse
  6. Reading more articles about the pros and cons of "Medicare for all"
  7. Changes in patterns of medical school applications and admissions
  8. Non-traditional career development for new sick care jobs
  9. More intense turf wars
  10. More town-gown warfare

Reading the sick care tea leaves is always hazardous to your future. Maybe AI can help.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs

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  • Dan Gilley

    Healthcare in the greatest country on earth is expensive.

  • Jack Underwood

    You can also add corporate greed.

  • Ben Atkinson

    Interesting take on US healthcare spending

  • Connor Oshea

    Profit comes first. It's a shame.

  • Yorkshire Lad

    In reply to: Connor Oshea

    This is why I live in England

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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