A reader writes:
I’m a hospitalist, and the primary care crisis here is getting really scary. Even as a hospitalist, you can’t imagine how many times a day I get asked by the lay public, “Are you taking new patients?”
Any thoughts about how the “falling house of cards” is going to appear? My prediction is sometime in the next 2-3 years. The issues just get worse and worse. And even from the inpatient viewpoint, I can tell you *nobody* is happy about the death of the PCP.
Even when we take care of people in-house, we’re finding it harder and harder to find someone to send them to on the outside.
It’s getting scary all around. I worry about who’s going to take care of my own parents – their PCP is in his 70s.
Physicians have been banging the primary care shortage drum for the last few years. Only recently has mainstream media caught on and have started writing articles about it.
I don’t think we’re at total collapse yet. The situation is grim, but it is not perceived by the politicians to be severe enough to warrant action yet. Recent polling has health care trailing Iraq and the economy on the list of voter concerns.
Discussing the issues surrounding the primary care crisis and getting patients on our side is imperative. I try to do this with my blog and the various opinion pieces I write for the USA Today. Political action has to be forced by the public.
I anticipate we will reach another level of urgency in a few years when the first wave of baby boomers reach Medicare age. Total collapse will be 5 to 10 years away, so we need to be ready ready with answers when the inevitable happens and the politicians are forced to face the problem.