Dr. Michael Weisberg, a practicing gastroenterologist for 23 years, has seen a transformation in the healthcare industry, how it has become more about the business instead of the art of medicine. And he said there is a difference.
“Medicine is an art, not just a science,” said the Preston Hollow resident. “It’s based on multiple sciences, but to really practice medicine well, you have to understand the art. It comes from having a background in those sciences but also adding to it — having experience, dealing with people, having skills to really know what’s going on personally with those people, taking time to talk to them.”
According to Weisberg, healthcare has become less about the quality of the patient-doctor relationship. Lifelong physicians are able to tend to patients as long as they are well, but when the rush to the hospital comes, they’re handed over to those who are known as “hospitalists,” the unfamiliar faces with great background knowledge of health but no background knowledge of the patients themselves.
In his new novel, The Hospitalist, Weisberg wants to expose the truth behind this business-centered medical model, by portraying how dangerous it can be to walk into a hospital and put your life in the hands of someone who doesn’t know you.
In order for something to change, he suggests more time spent interacting with patients, both among doctors and nurses. Usually, time spent with the nurse is full of documentation and questioning, filling in spots on the computer or iPad. He believes that the nurse should not have to spend so much time interacting with a screen, but rather be allowed more time with the person before them, which is why they went into the profession in the first place — to care for people.
Weisberg’s passion for people started when he was young and frequently sick. His childhood doctor took care of him, making house calls even with an injured leg. He would pull himself up the stairs and into Weisberg’s bedroom to take care of him. The doctor-patient relationship was there, and it was strong.
Writing The Hospitalist was therapeutic for Weisberg, allowing him to vent his concerns for healthcare today and also pay tribute to those who are focused on patient interaction.
“People don’t know. Before you go to the hospital, if at all possible, you should have an advocate with you. Always,” Weisberg said. “Because things are going to happen and happen quickly, and it may not always be in your best interest.”