When doctors begin to practice, they soon realize that they will have to purchase specialized equipment that will allow them to perform tests right in the office instead of sending them to a lab. This not only increases doctors’ revenue but also makes them appear to be more high tech than the doctor next door, helping them to attract new patients. Of course, if the office next door already has all the same high-tech equipment, the new kid on the block usually has to go one better, purchasing either more expensive equipment or simply more of it.

As many medical practices evolved into high-tech profit centers, the old American image of the physician naturally began to erode. The friendly family doctor who made house calls became the high-tech whiz-kid specialist who used CAT scans, MRIs, and other high-tech devices to help make a diagnosis. It became clear that the public was torn: they still wanted the old family doctor, but they were also very attracted to the exciting high-tech aspects of medicine. Access to this new wave of medical care also began to expand to many parts of the country, especially in major metropolitan areas, where the physician population has normally been more concentrated. In essence, it became almost impossible for patients to decline to have a certain test done, since they could choose from a number of conveniently located testing centers where the test could be performed. In this way, patients could seek the opinion of several specialists, who would give them numerous tests in order to offer second and third opinions on the previous doctor’s diagnosis. The more patients who walked through the door and the more procedures performed by a physician, clinic, hospital, or diagnostic test center, the more money everyone would make.


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