The man leading the Palm Beach County Medical Society in its 99th year operates on hands for a living, but Dr. Brandon Luskin says troubling trends in the profession mean doctors themselves increasingly need help maintaining a healthy grip on work and life responsibilities.
“Physician burnout is at an all-time high,” Luskin said. “We’re forced into volume care, at our own expense and that of our patients.”
Physicians are now helping other physicians
That’s one reason why the society, which has long supported programs such as providing volunteer medical services for patients who cannot afford it, has launched a confidential hotline for medical professionals this year.
When healers need healing, things like burnout and depression can bring fear of being stigmatized. Those who work for employers may hesitate to seek treatment through their own health plans out of concern it could put their jobs at risk. The hotline arranges free counseling visits and referrals for treatments based on the need, Dr. Luskin said.
Furthermore, Luskin announced that “We just launched this in January and so far we’ve had 15 physicians self-refer.”
It’s one of many initiatives in the medical society, the other programs include better preparation for disasters like last year’s Hurricane Irma. Luskin assumed the presidency of the society in January after serving a dozen years on its board or in other officer roles.
The future role of physicians
Dr. Luskin grew up in New York before coming to Florida. He graduated magna cum laude from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1985, attended SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse for medical school and completed his orthopedic surgery training at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
In Florida, his practice focuses on hands and upper extremities. Since 1997, he has been practicing with Orthopaedic Surgery Associates Inc. Luskin is married to his wife Julie and is the father of three – two daughters and a son.
Among the challenges he sees for doctors stand industry trends that have often pushed down reimbursements, while leaving doctors feeling like they spend more and more of their time filling out electronic forms.
“Today I inherit the leadership at a critical time,” Luskin wrote in the society’s On Call journal when he took office.
He said, input from physicians is too often disregarded and the quality of the doctor-patient relationship suffers in the process of paying for health care.
“The potential for physicians in the future to be reduced to the level of a service technician by those who reimburse us for our services is probable,” he wrote.
Hometown: Great Neck, N.Y.
Where you live now: Delray Beach
About your company: I am currently a partner in Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, Boynton Beach. It is a multi-specialty orthopaedic surgery, which has been serving the south Palm Beach County area for 40 years.
How has your business changed: Like all medical businesses, we have seen a significant deterioration of medical reimbursement over the last two decades in the face of increasing overhead. We have transitioned from paper charts and real X-rays, to electronic medical records and digital PACS systems for our X-rays. We have also been forced to be more selective about which insurance programs we can participate with, as many of the programs have become too labor-intensive with respect to the authorization process.
First Paying job: At age 13, I became a Laboratory of Dermatopathology Lab Assistant in Long Island. I assisted in processing dermatology biopsy specimens. I learned that behind each of the thousands of specimens this lab processed was a patient eagerly awaiting their biopsy results. I learned about professionalism.
First break in the business: The “match” at the end of medical school is a computerized process that most residency programs participate in. After the interview process the students rank their preferred programs, and the programs rank the students. We all find out at the same time if we got the specialty we want, and where we will be spending the next years of our lives. When I matched in orthopaedic surgery at my first choice program I was stunned, as orthopaedic surgery was and still is one of the most competitive programs to get into.
Best business book you ever read: “Personal Finance for Dummies.” When we finish medical school and residency training we know how to save lives and limbs. We are strapped with debt and have no idea how to look out for ourselves financially. Even though you are 32 years old and finally have some income, we had no idea how to get back up on our feet. This is even worse if you are married and have kids. It takes the average young physician a decade to put it all together.
Best piece of business advice you have ever received: Whatever you plan to do in life, do it with passion.
What do you tell young people about your business? Go into medicine because you want to help people. No matter what changes affect medicine, if you enjoy helping people, you will find medicine a rewarding profession.
What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? Medicine will be more rapidly changing over the next 10 years, more so than over the previous 20 years. The current system is not economically sustainable, so changes are inevitable. More and more people will be hitting retirement age with less savings than ever before, and will have to give up choice because of the related costs. This will have a profound effect on health care as Medicare HMOs gain ground in Palm Beach County. I would hope that Palm Beach County could develop an increased “public health” sector, much like Broward County has, which would offer our residents an alternative.
Where can we find you when you are not at the office? Swimming in our pool with my 5-year-old son, or exploring parks in our area with him. I also love fishing, the Florida Keys, skiing, and visiting my friends and family back in New York City.
Favorite smartphone app: Waze. This app saves me time when shuffling between destinations.
What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? A person needs to be qualified for the position, and show a proven history of ability to learn new tasks, or adapt to changes. I also like to feel that I can “connect” with the people I work with. I like people with good communication skills.
Original tex by Charles Elmore: