From the desk of the EMD: New Year’s resolutions for the allergist

January 7, 2019

It’s that time of year when we see all the stories flooding the news and social media about making our New Year’s resolutions. You know, the same ones we see every year - exercise more, lose weight, eat right, etc. We may try to keep these promises, but usually by Jan. 31 they are long forgotten.

Are there specific resolutions that we as allergists should ponder for 2019? I put together some that you could consider for the new year.

  1. Stop spending “pajama time” with your electronic medical record (EMR). It’s time to take back your evenings and weekends. Family and friends are more entertaining than your EMR. “But how can I get all my chart notes completed in the office during clinic time?” you may ask. “That will reduce my productivity!” One suggestion is hiring a scribe. Sure, that’s an added cost to your practice, but it can usually be covered by being able to see more patients each day. It will improve your mood and lead to a better work/life balance.
  2. Manage time wasters. There are many distractions going on in the office that can hamper your productivity and lead to frustration in practice. Things like email, snail mail, phone calls, texts and physical interruptions can disrupt your normal flow in clinic. Why not set up a time or times during the day when you will deal with these matters?  Make sure your staff knows you won’t be replying or meeting with anyone except during those times.
  3. Get your financial house in order. We all do CME to keep up our allergy education, but how many of you spend time on your financial education? We work hard, and we need to make sure that our money works hard too. We need to save and invest wisely with minimal costs, get rid of debt as soon as possible and fund our retirement. Here are some approaches to consider. Embrace a middle-class lifestyle. Just because you are an allergist doesn’t mean you need a McMansion and luxury cars. Keep your investments simple and inexpensive by buying low-cost index funds. Life insurance is not an investment - stick to term life and avoid products like whole life. If you don’t understand an investment, don’t make it. Do your own financial planning or hire a fee-only advisor.  As I have mentioned before, a great source of financial information for the allergist is the book “The White Coat Investor,” by James Dahle, MD. Also, a terrific website from which to ask and obtain financial advice is bogleheads.com.
  4. Explore telehealth. There is a growing acceptance of telehealth by patients. Could this be a way for you to follow up with certain types of patients who don’t need an in-office visit, such as immunotherapy checkups?  Would telehealth be valuable to your patients who live long distances from your nearest office? Would it help bring in new patients to the practice and retain old ones? The College’s Telehealth Committee is developing a “Consumer Reports”-type review of telehealth vendors to help you determine if a particular company would benefit your practice. Telehealth is here. Should you be part of it?

That’s enough resolutions to try to keep for 2019. If you have any resolutions that you would like to share with your colleagues, email them to me to include in a future College Insider column. Of course, don’t forget to exercise more, lose weight, and eat right. ;-)

Michael Blaiss, MD, FACAAI, Executive Medical Director