In an all-too-common patient story that will frustrate any patient or doc who's been there, regular contributor Stephen Schimpff explains what's wrong with primary care through one patient case.
By Stephen Schimpff, M.D.
A primary care physician needs, of course, to be well educated, well trained and up to date. But that’s not enough. He or she also needs to be a deep listener and critical thinker. And, to be most effective, the physician needs a team with the patient at the center – the patient-centered medical home
concept. Listening and thinking require time, and so does quarterbacking all of the other providers and team members needed to care for patients with chronic disease.
Time is the element that’s been lost in primary care practice over the past decade or more. Without time to listen, the full picture of a person and their illness does not emerge. Without time to think, the diagnostic process suffers immensely. The physician is then no longer a healer but rather a well-paid care giver. He or she is quick to send the patient off to a specialist. The opportunity for outstanding preventive care
is diminished. And without time to coordinate all of the other providers that are required for someone with a serious chronic illness, the care becomes disjointed, quality suffers and expenses rise.
A patient story will illustrate the problem.