What The Hollywood Strike Should Teach Us About Healthcare
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) embarked on a strike on July 13th, in an effort to address several pressing concerns within the entertainment industry. They are protesting the relatively low compensation of rank-and-file actors, while CEOs took home several millions of dollars annually. In addition they have concerns about the rapidly evolving landscape of streaming revenues and the potential implications of artificial intelligence (AI) on the future of the entertainment industry. With streaming platforms gaining increasing prominence and reshaping the distribution model, actors are seeking wage security in this digital era.
Moreover, with the growth of AI technologies in film and television production SAG is calling for job protection guarantees to ensure that actors remain an essential part of the industry, even in the face of advancing AI capabilities. This strike marks a significant moment as it aligns with the ongoing screenwriters' strike that began in May. The last time such a combined strike occurred was in 1960 when Ronald Reagan was the head of SAG, highlighting the gravity of the situation and the unity of the industry's creative professionals in demanding their rights.
It's not uncommon for some people outside of Hollywood to react to these strikes with skepticism and disregard. There is often a collective eye roll and muttered comments suggesting that these highly paid actors lead glamorous lives and should simply "shut up and act." This sentiment echoes the dismissive attitudes that physicians frequently encounter when they face burnout.
Physician burnout is a pervasive issue within the healthcare system, affecting up to 44% of practicing doctors, as reported by the American Medical Association (AMA) based on a meta-analysis published in 2018. What is particularly striking is that those on the frontlines of healthcare delivery, such as emergency room doctors, primary care physicians, and critical care specialists, are among the most severely affected by burnout.
The causes of physician burnout are multifaceted, with factors like loss of autonomy, administrative burdens, heavy workloads, and long hours contributing to the problem. Despite shouldering immense responsibility and providing crucial healthcare services, physicians face diminishing real income while CEOs of large healthcare systems take home exorbitant salaries. The corporatization of medicine has eroded the presence of independent private practices, further exacerbating the challenges faced by physicians.
Unfortunately, calls for improved working conditions, better pay, and job security for physicians have often fallen on deaf ears or have been met with empty platitudes or superficial solutions. Third-party aggregators such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) may claim to streamline care and enhance outcomes, but they often further reduce the already slim margins for independent physicians.
While it's tempting to dismiss the struggles of physicians and actors due to their perceived privilege, it is crucial to recognize the underlying issues and systemic challenges they face. The power dynamics and economic realities of their respective industries may differ, but both groups are grappling with a lack of control, diminishing income, and a sense of being undervalued.
Unlike Hollywood actors, physicians across the nation cannot simply walk off the job to demand better pay, job security, and improved working conditions. While insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations, and large hospital conglomerates continue to rake in substantial profits, the physicians at the forefront of healthcare delivery bear the burden of increasing responsibility with loss of autonomy and diminishing real income .