Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Do 345 Doctors=1 Geek?

Well if this isn't a slap in the face and a freezing cold splash of reality for anybody who works in healthcare. Sheridan Healthcare, the physician outsourcing company has announced that it is seeking an initial public offering. Sheridan is one of the largest multispecialty physician group in the country, employing over 2,000 doctors in 25 states. It has been on a tear acquiring medical groups left and right. For such a large corporation, the company is seeking a relatively modest valuation of $2 billion for its IPO.

By contrast, Facebook made headlines worldwide when it announced the acquisition of WhatsApp in February for $19 billion. This is a phone app that allows people to text and send each other cat pictures for free, like a multitude of other text apps available for iOS and Android. WhatsApp has almost no revenue and employs just 55 employees.

So let's work out the math. Two billion dollars for over 2,000 doctors equals under $1 million per doctor. Much less if you subtract out the value of all the non-physician employees and company assets. WhatsApp's valuation is $19 billion divided by 55 employees or over $345 million per employee. Three hundred forty-five to one. Doesn't sound quite fair does it?

The market is telling us it values people who allow others to waste their time texting 345 times greater than a person who helps others attain and maintain their health. One company wastes a person's productivity while the other helps a person get back into society as a productive citizen. One company barely requires a college education to be successful while the other needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans and at least twelve years of one's life in servitude before making any actual money and starting a life.

But of course the stock market would value the two companies differently. Healthcare is considered a burden on society. Its only feature is to make people poorer for what should be a universal right that nobody should have to pay a dime. A phone app can reach billions of people around the world and all those eyeballs can be worth a lot of money to advertisers. People willingly pay real money for that.

Is it any wonder that nerds get gourmet food and company gyms for free while we have to sneak lunch into the operating room to keep from fainting from hypoglycemia? Any young person able to write five lines of code would be crazy to want to go into medicine. The cost/benefit calculus barely works for medical schools and private practice anymore. Doctors are the leeches that are sucking the life out of America while the nerds will ride in on their white iPhones to set the country free. Ooh, I like that. Let me put that on my Facebook page.

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