It doesn’t have to suck. There’s nothing about medicines and treatments and diagnosis and surgery that needs to suck by nature. It’s pretty awesome stuff.
But the quality of the experience is almost always awful.
The majority of doctors don’t do anything at all. They look at a chart that shows the weights and measurements the nurses took and a few notes on what the patient said. They ask you the same questions again. Maybe they shine a light in your eyes. Then they go away for the same amount of time it takes a cop to write you a ticket – somewhere in that twenty-five to forever minutes range – come back and tell you to buy some pills they looked up on their computer. Two or three redundant ones to be “safe”. They don’t mention side effects. They don’t know anything about them. You ask them what’s in the pills and they don’t really know. The waiter at a local restaurant knows more about what’s in the stuff they sell you than doctors know about what they prescribe. None of this is helpful because you already looked up your symptoms and figured out what pills you wanted on your own. But you couldn’t buy them without the doctor’s royal imprimatur.
That’s about it. That’s what most doctors do most of the time and most of them do that badly.
Of course there are some awesome docs. And there are some awesome advanced procedures and research in medicine. But those are rare. Most of the medical industry is a giant school-like cinder block monstrosity filled with unaccountable government protected rule followers.
The solution is simple, and one that existed long before the modern medical establishment. Get government out of medicine altogether. Start with removing government from medical certification and license. The license laws were implemented with the express intent to restrict the number of doctors and make medical care less accessible and more expensive. Medical costs were too low and insurance was too accessible for the tastes of those who had control over government. So they “fixed” it.
Any time you restrict the supply of labor and make government hoops the only legal way to offer services, you get higher prices and lower quality. From taxi medallions to medical licenses, it’s the same principle at work. Those willing to jump through the hoops get an automatic guaranteed customer base because supply has been so restricted. And licensing is sold to the public as a viable quality control, which of course it isn’t. It’s competition control, and competition is the greatest quality control of all. Protecting low quality providers from competition is a danger to the public. Monopolized medical licensing is a danger to the public.
Insurance requirements and restrictions, subsidies, the FDA, and many more egregious government interventions exacerbate the problem. Most were touted as solutions to the problem originally created by government, and all only make it worse.
It’s a terrible, low-quality, sub-human experience most of the time. Barring big crisis interventions and surgeries which can be life-saving, most treatment is a crappy soup of mediocrity and blind paternalism. Nobody knows what the hell is going on and nobody realizes how much better it could and should be.
So what’s the most likely unexpected angle of innovation and competition? Nobody saw ride-share apps coming and upending taxi cartels. What will upend the medical cartels?
Thinking about it gets me excited.