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Psychiatrists are incredibly good at innovating solutions to unusual problems. Dr. Dixon has encountered managing a seizure on-board a plane. Social media is full of examples of burned-out physicians having to continue their work at 40,000 feet, while on vacation, after getting off a 30-hour shift, and then hearing those dreaded words: “Is there a doctor on board the aircraft?”

In every disaster there is an opportunity to support and inform. In-flight emergencies are a unique opportunity for medical professionals to support passengers during a time of huge stress while informing clinicians about new entrepreneurial opportunities.

What if there was a way to give physicians an outlet to help, promote physician autonomy, and decrease burnout from the unrealistic expectations placed on them by society? The airline industry made nearly $200 billion in revenue in 2019, so it seems like something they could afford to tack on to their services to provide care and safety to their passengers. 

Imagine telehealth services on smaller flights maximizing availability and efficiency of care, while having a physician for bigger, busier flights, creating peace of mind for travelers who want quality medical care if there is an emergency. 

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare to have any sort of emergency mid-flight; worrying about a medical catastrophe is even worse. Having a medical professional on the plane could literally save someone’s life (or help them feel like they can make it through the flight with one nearby).

With an estimated 24 to 130 in-flight emergencies occurring per 1 million passengers, and at least 30% of these incidents requiring medical expertise beyond what the in-flight crew can administer, how do we innovate to encourage entrepreneurship and protect patients?

While in-flight medical volunteers are generally protected by the Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998, creating a whole new branch of medical practice in the air to protect patients and empower physicians is a win-win.

At Simply Psych we have learned the power of direct care and transparency. Just like our psychiatrists create innovative and individualized treatments for our patients, our medical counterparts have a unique opportunity to create a whole new industry that is direct pay and owned by the experts. 

Every good clinician-led practice deserves great administration. While Simply Psych is focusing on the mental health realm, there are good organizational lessons shared across all successful practices. What other sectors need empowered physician-disruptors? 

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