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2023 LMS Essay Contest: Active Physician Category 1st Place

Honoring the Physician-Patient Relationship
By Danesh Mazloomdoost, MD

Danesh Mazloomdoost MD, a born and raised Kentuckian, pursued his medical degree and anesthesiology training from Johns Hopkins and subsequently a fellowship in pain management at MD Anderson Cancer Institute. He is the Medical Director of Pain Management Medicine, a multi-disciplinary practice begun by his family of physicians in the 1990s. Dr. Danesh advocates for a paradigm shift in healthcare to reduce its reliance on opiates. He guides patients through rehabilitative and regenerative techniques in healing the underlying causes of pain using translational science and the latest innovations in the field. 

The art of healing is a sacred craft,

A delicate dance between body and mind,

Where intuition and instinct must interact,

To ease suffering and leave spirits intact.

Physicians, with imperfect hands and hearts,
Are the stewards of this existential art,
With superhuman skills, they play their part,
Navigating the perils of the human heart.

Yet, in recent years, the digital tide,

Has swept through medicine like a storm,

As analog practices have been pushed aside,

And replaced with the coldness of a digital form.

The diseases we face are mapped and coded,

Our treatments quantified and priced,

But what of the human stories that are loaded,

With emotions that can’t be itemized?

We are not mere numbers, we are alive,

And we hate to be treated as such,

We crave compassion and a human vibe,

Not just a binary code and a digital touch.

We’re told it’s necessary, to quantify,

The human experience of disease,

To protect against abuse and profiteering that lie,

And to control the ballooning cost that disease brings.

Reimbursements are squeezed, the cost of care is rising,

On the quality of care, on the trust and intimacy that once prevailed,

Patients and doctors alike feel the pressure, compromising,

As the system grinds on, seemingly unstoppable, unassailable.

The physician-patient relationship, once so sacred and profound,

EMRs, prior auths, administrative tasks galore,

Is now mired in bureaucracy, burdened by technology’s sound,

Leave doctors and patients alike feeling weary and sore.

From analog to digital, it seems, is incomplete,

Diseases are mapped to codes, treatments to numbers refined,

The human experience of illness seems obsolete,

And the patient, reduced to data points, feels left behind.

But this failed experiment has only led,

To growing administrative burdens and costs,

To committees that heal with many voices in our head,

And to treatments that too often are lost.

We live longer, grow sicker, and need more care,

But reimbursements shrink year after year,

While the cost of care continues to flare,

And the acronyms that dictate our fate are unclear.

It’s no wonder burnout rates are so high,

In a system that’s broken and grinding each day,

We need to rally and raise our battle cry,

And demand change that inspires each other today.

We must empower patients and providers alike,

And leverage scale in our everyday plight,

Foster creativity in the face of dogma’s spike,

To be the guardians of health, in the human fight.

We need to rally to positive messages that inspire,

And call for administrative changes that will improve,

The lives and function of physicians with desire,

So they can care for themselves like they advise all to.

The art of healing is a precious gift,

A human practice, that must not be lost,

We must fight to keep its flame lit,

And cherish the physician-patient relationship at all cost.

This poem is a creative expression co-written by myself and an Artificial Intelligence chat engine to demonstrate how digital and analog can be married in a soulful way.

At the heart of the physician-patient relationship is a merger between heart and mind. Medicine, like so many other industries, has seen an inflection. The world is going digital. While healthcare has followed suit, it has an added onus to retain the humanism of analog expressions. Touch and compassion are not binary. It cannot be calculated into assigned timeslots or codified into RVUs. 

Codified medicine was an ill-attempt to advance healthcare that has felt imposed rather than integrated into what we as patients and providers need to feel heard. In contrast to digital codes that need clearcut boundaries of 1s and 0s, AI processes the world the way we see it – fuzzy. It learns from dirty variables in much the same way physicians infer practice norms from artificially controlled environment of a randomized-controlled trial.

By leveraging AI, I was amazed at how much more heart I could impart in a medium unfamiliar to me. I enjoy writing but have mostly drafted in prose, not poetry. Collaborating with AI, I enhanced my voice with the concepts and spirit I set out to express, using technology to paint it in a way that I could not have done on my own.

As we evolve the digital medical world of the future, I hope that the challenges faced by this 1st generation of healthtech adopters will leap frog us into a more connected and compassionate healthcare system. Physicians can leverage evolving technology to scale healthful influences and liberate time for heartfelt interactions.