Dr Sameer K Suhail: In Light Of The Pandemic, Here Are The 5 Things We Need To Do To Improve The US Healthcare System

An Interview With Luke Kervin

Luke Kervin, Co-Founder of Tebra
Authority Magazine

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We have a long way to go, but we are making progress. We need to open more programs and slots to meet the needs of communities who would benefit from physicians who represent the community’s population in order to provide the most compassionate and educated care. More diversity and representation of minorities can help the healthcare industry understand the social determinants of health plaguing underserved communities.

The COVID-19 Pandemic taught all of us many things. One of the sectors that the pandemic put a spotlight on was the healthcare industry. The pandemic showed the resilience of the US healthcare system, but it also pointed out some important areas in need of improvement.

In our interview series called “In Light Of The Pandemic, Here Are The 5 Things We Need To Do To Improve The US Healthcare System”, we are interviewing doctors, hospital administrators, nursing home administrators, and healthcare leaders who can share lessons they learned from the pandemic about how we need to improve the US Healthcare System.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Sameer K. Suhail.

Dr. Sameer K. Suhail, MD, is an entrepreneur, healthcare investor, and philanthropist. Dr. Suhail has extensive experience working with large facilities and specialty providers across the healthcare industry.

Dr. Suhail’s companies provide management services to a wide array of providers and physician practice groups. Collectively, they provide coding, billing, and collection services, procurement of medical supplies and equipment, outpatient pharmacy operations, and diagnostic imaging services. As well as providing healthcare facilities with professional staffing needs. Dr. Suhail is a leader in providing opportunities in the United States for domestic and foreign trained medical students and graduates through his award-winning clinical clerkship and residency programs.

Dr. Suhail is passionate about providing quality healthcare for local communities, particularly those in underserved urban and rural communities.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into our interview, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and a bit about what brought you to this specific career path?

From a young age, I recognized there was a difference in healthcare delivery models between socioeconomic classes. Raised in a modest neighborhood, I witnessed first-hand how higher-income communities had better services than others. That is why, as a healthcare entrepreneur, I have made it my mission to provide the most cost-effective, quality healthcare training programs, healthcare services, and readily accessible treatment options for underserved communities.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Early on, in my career as a medical student, I had my first experience working in underserved communities. It was during these rotations that I saw how broken the healthcare system is in terms of getting doctors to work in these communities. I wanted to help bring more medical students and residents to these communities to serve those who need it the most. When I began thinking creatively about solutions to this issue, it sparked the entrepreneurship side in me. Helping serve these communities is my passion as a healthcare entrepreneur, and it goes back to my first-hand experience.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

Funny enough, I was a biomedical engineering student before I decided to switch to medical school. My brother was in medical school at the time, and he would tell me that it was so much better than engineering. He wouldn’t give up until I finally decided to pursue medicine instead. It’s funny how that decision changed my career path, and my brother is satisfied with himself for being the influence.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My most significant lesson learned throughout the years is that you’ll have to “dive in and dissect” every decision. In business, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but at the end of the day, we must take time to think about lessons learned in that collaboration and partnership. Moving forward, as an entrepreneur dives into new projects, uses lessons learned to dissect that opportunity and make the best one based on lessons learned.

How would you define an excellent healthcare provider?

An excellent healthcare provider is someone passionate about the overall health and wellbeing of their patients. I have high respect and regard for physicians who love their jobs and see beyond the financial benefits of the profession. Physicians, whether on the business or practicing side, who care for the holistic health of their community and choose to benefit the underserved that others don’t look at, are an exceptionally excellent healthcare provider.

The Covid-19 pandemic has put intense pressure on the American healthcare system. Some healthcare systems were at a complete loss in how to handle this crisis. Can you share with our readers a few examples of where we’ve seen the U.S. healthcare system struggle? How do you think we can correct these specific issues moving forward?

Covid changed the perspective of many things. It exposed health inequities for vulnerable communities, and it also showed the extreme personal sacrifice of our providers. As frontline workers, who already were in high-pressure, critical roles, our physicians and nurses had to put their lives on the line to treat this deadly disease. Mentally and physically, we have seen a huge shift in their wellbeing.

We can take many lessons learned from the pandemic. Collectively, our society and healthcare professionals need to look at this situation and find more efficient ways to treat patients that also let steam out of the pressure cooker our providers are in. There are other pathways to treat patients with different symptoms and injuries, like creating rapid treatment areas and observation areas. Going back to the beginning in education and preventive medicine for patients to help change the scope of the future of healthcare.

I would say that right now, two and a half years after COVID-19 started, the number one area for funding priorities is mental and behavioral health. There are communities with populations who don’t even know what a psychologist is. Mental health for adolescents and adults is one of the top subspecialties we need to focus on.

Of course, the story was not entirely negative. Healthcare professionals were true heroes on the front lines of the crisis. The COVID-19 vaccines saved millions of lives. Can you share a few ways our healthcare system did well?

Reducing the amount of red tape and speeding up the licensure factors in order to allow physicians to practice between state lines was a big success. At the height of the pandemic, some states were hit harder than others and there were physicians, nurse practitioners and licensed professionals who were begging for immediate unrestricted abilities to cross state lines and serve the urgent needs of their neighbor states. Another example was the CLIA waiver that included test systems to be cleared by the FDA for at home use at an extraordinary pace for government approvals. This was a reflection point to review some federal regulations and rules in place that may now be obsolete and by cutting back, we create mutually beneficial system for administrators, providers and most importantly the patients.

As a healthcare leader, can you share five changes that need to be made to improve the U.S. healthcare system?

The first change that needs to be made to improve access and affordability of healthcare in the United States would be to allow for more collaboration between hospital systems. If they can work more cohesively, the synergy between hospitals would serve in the best interest of patients and their healthcare access and affordability. I’d like to see the focus on hospitals in underserved communities and hospitals in communities with vulnerable populations.

Additional changes that would make a difference in the healthcare system are 2) implement a model like rapid treatment rooms, 3) provide more government funding for additional training programs, 4) encourage health equity with more federal assistance to cover health care costs for poor and vulnerable patients, and 5) promote preventative care to give patients early opportunities to manage and guard their health.

How can we address the problem of physician shortages?

Encourage more students to become doctors. We can pin the genesis of the shortages at the point in time when college students decide what they want to do for their career. Choosing to go to medical school is a massive decision with many personal and financial investments, and students need to have not just support and education at that level, but also to feel optimistic about the future of healthcare and their role as providers. We want to give them optimism in the medical school process. We must promote medicine and healthcare and make it more attractive for undergraduates. We can start by making changes to the system by rethinking how much administrative burden physicians are required to carry and looking to expand opportunities for advanced practitioners.

How do you think we can address the issue of physician diversity?

We have a long way to go, but we are making progress. We need to open more programs and slots to meet the needs of communities who would benefit from physicians who represent the community’s population in order to provide the most compassionate and educated care. More diversity and representation of minorities can help the healthcare industry understand the social determinants of health plaguing underserved communities.

How do you think we can address the issue of physician burnout?

In addition to saving lives, physicians are required to do a lot of administrative work. If we could find more ways to keep doctors on the floor, in clinics, it could help spread the medical workload around. I believe the strenuous administrative burden on physicians contributes significantly to burnout. Like we just saw with COVID-19, physicians are putting their lives on the line to treat communicable diseases. They’re risking their mental and physical health. We need to do more to incentivize them and take care of them, too.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

It all comes back to serving the underserved and our most vulnerable populations. Areas that are underserved or have no service at all, need more hospitals or Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQAC) to open in these healthcare deserts. The most modern and highest quality healthcare should be available to all who need it, not just those without great health insurance coverage. There are people who are making an abundance of money but aren’t contributing back to society. If more people invested back in their communities, that could change the impact of how things can move forward in healthcare in underserved communities.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was very inspirational and we wish you continued success in your great work.

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Luke Kervin, Co-Founder of Tebra
Authority Magazine

Luke Kervin is the Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Tebra