“I just got sick and tired of being an “assembly line” doctor”!
I knew immediately what she meant by that statement, she was on the medical treadmill and going nowhere. Her previous places of employment as a doctor were like production lines, impersonal and cold and neither the patients nor the doctors were happy.
But the concept of an assembly line can actually be a good thing in health care, it’s not the assembly line that’s the problem as much as the people responsible for running it. An assembly line is just a system, a system that allows for maximum efficiency. Take the world’s most famous assembly line, the one designed by Henry Ford.
In the autumn of 1908, Henry Ford’s first Model T rolled out. It cost $825. While much less expensive than the other cars of that time, for Ford it was still too expensive. Ford was convinced that ordinary hard-working people needed cars and his cars were still not affordable for the masses. In 1913, he visited a meat packing plant in Chicago and saw how the large slabs of meat were on an overhead trolley system and butchers would slice off their piece of meat as it passed them. From that was born Ford’s famous assembly line that allowed cars to be built faster and cheaper. In fact, that system accounted for cars of high quality and low price. The price of a Model T in the 1920’s dropped to $290! Besides the low price, Ford’s Model T was known for its quality and strength.
I understand what she meant by not wanting to be an assembly line doctor. But I’m not at all sure it was the fault of the “assembly line”. As docs, we want to be free to treat patients with dignity and respect and moving them through like herds of cattle is not the answer. But designing a system that makes their time in the doctor’s office much more efficient may be just what the doctor ordered. At QuikSurg, we are such a place… our patients are the happy recipients of a system that allows them to be treated like the doctor and his staff would want to be treated.