Author Jay Neugeboren presented with shortness of breath after exertion, and eventually was diagnosed with coronary artery disease requiring an emergent quintuple-bypass.
How did two doctors, including a cardiologist, miss the urgency of his symptoms? It probably was because they didn’t know the author, whereas his lifelong friend, who turned out to also be a doctor, was able to “place [his] new symptoms in the context of [his] overall story.”
Continuity of care matters, and in this day and age where the average Medicare patient sees close to 10 different doctors per year, health care is becoming more fragmented.
As Mr. Neugeboren writes, “To get diagnoses and treatment plans right, we need doctors who know us over time, and who have the time to know us.”
Sadly, as long as quantity of care remains disproportionally valued by the physician payment system, both continuity of care and time spent with patients will continue to be in short supply.