Next in a series. Primary care physicians (PCPs) have multiple frustrations today. The greatest frustration is “time, time, time.” From in-depth interviews with over 20 PCPs, everyone said that time or more correctly lack of time was the greatest frustration of their practice (or was previously if they now were in a practice that limited the patient number to a manageable level). Each knew that they could not give the ...

Read more...

Next in a series. As a general rule, PCPs like people. This was true of them long before they started medical school and it will have only blossomed further during training. Ask PCPs, as I have with in depth interviews, and they will tell you that certain types of individuals are drawn to primary care careers. They like to converse with people. They enjoy getting to know about a person -- ...

Read more...

Next in a series. The primary care physician (PCP) is the most broadly yet deeply focused care giver and as such is the the backbone of the healthcare system. But to do this work effectively requires time -- time which all too often is not adequately available. What constitutes primary care and who are the primary care physicians? They are the first responders, the first line of care, and very frequently ...

Read more...

Next in a series. You the patient are really not the customer of the physician. Since the insurer will determine whether and how much the physician will be paid for attending to your needs, you are largely a bystander in the relationship. The doctor’s customer has become the insurer. Our system of care is definitely not customer-focused. Doctors truly believe that they have the patient’s best interests in mind and they ...

Read more...

Next in a series. We have a real paradox in American health care. On the one hand we have exceptionally well educated and well trained providers who are committed to our care. We are the envy of the world for our biomedical research prowess, funded largely by the National Institutes of Health and conducted across the county in universities and medical schools. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries continuously bring forth ...

Read more...

Next in a series. There is and will be a need for many more primary care physicians (PCPs). Why? There is a shortage now and it will be exacerbated in the coming years for at least three reasons. The population is growing, the population is aging and there will be more individuals with health care coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). I believe that the need will be much ...

Read more...

Next in a series. Primary care physicians (PCPs) are becoming extinct.  It’s true. Not many medical students choose primary care as their career path. Older PCPs are retiring early. Many others are closing their practices or seeking employment at the local hospital. And there has always been a shortage of primary care physicians in rural and urban poor areas. Today only 30% of all physicians practice primary care (compared to ...

Read more...

Next in a series. Primary care physicians (PCPs) have too little time per patient which means too many referrals to specialists, too little time listening and thinking, no time to delve into the stress or emotional causes of many symptoms and substantial frustration by PCP and patient alike. Previously in this continuing series on primary care, I described a patient with a straight forward if unusual symptom who was bounced ...

Read more...

First in a series. The primary care physician (PCP) should be the backbone of the American healthcare system. But primary care is in crisis -- a very serious crisis. The first statement is my considered opinion and I will attempt to convince you of its truth. The second sentence is a simple fact. Accounting for only 5% of all health care expenses, the PCP can largely control the “if and ...

Read more...

The Affordable Care Act is not so affordable if you own or if you are an employee of a small business. Here is why. Consider the owner of a small service business with one or multiple outlets (e.g., a large restaurant or a small chain of sit down restaurants, a chain of barber shops, a taxi company.) The owner has more than 50 employees but the business is still “small” with ...

Read more...

There are just a few key reasons why Medicare has become inordinately expensive. There is no end in sight for cost escalation. But there are some obvious solutions and they all begin with chronic illnesses. Chronic illnesses -- diabetes, heart failure, cancer, chronic lung disease, etc. -- are increasing at exponential rates; are caused largely by lifestyle behaviors; and consume 70-85% of all claims paid. Medicare enrollees tend to have chronic ...

Read more...

“An ounce of prevention” we all know is good medicine. An example is colonoscopy. It was time for mine so after some lengthy procrastination I called and set up an appointment which I soon found a perfectly good reason to postpone for a few weeks. A common occurrence. The government wants me (and you) to not procrastinate, at least not because of the cost. The Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) ...

Read more...

Primary care physicians (PCPs) have been marginalized by Medicare for decades with low reimbursement rates for routine office visits which has led to the 15-20 minute office visit with 10-12 minutes of actual “face time” and a panel of patients that well exceeds 2000. Is there a good solution to the Medicare cost and quality issues? Setting aside either the Democrats’ approach to basically enact price controls by ratcheting down reimbursements or ...

Read more...

There are distinct advantages for the patient who pays the primary care physician (PCP) directly: higher quality, lower cost and greater satisfaction. The fundamental problem in health care delivery today is a payment system that is highly dysfunctional leading to higher costs, lesser quality and reduced satisfaction. The core problem? The patient is no one’s customer. With employer-based insurance, the physician’s customer is the insurance company that sets the rates, defines the rules and accepts ...

Read more...

The Democrats and the Republican parties’ approaches to Medicare are quite different.  Which approach is better? That is the wrong question. Or at least not the most important question. Instead we should consider what could be done now to actually improve patient care quality as a means to reducing costs. Is there a good solution to the Medicare issue? Setting aside either the Democrats’ approach to basically enact price controls by ...

Read more...

The two party’s approaches are quite different.  Politicians realize that Medicare will not be able to continue on its current track. Something has to change since the country will simply not be able to afford the inexorable growth and expenditures. But politicians do not like to take away entitlements so proposals generally are couched in vague terms and often with positions that are unrealistic. The Democrats’ plans are contained generally in ...

Read more...

Since the nomination of Congressman Paul Ryan as the vice presidential candidate of the Republican Party, Medicare has become front and center in the political discussions. To understand the dialogue requires an understanding of Medicare, how it works, where the money comes from, how it is spent and why there is such concern for its future costs. Here is an overview. Medicare was designed in 1965 to serve as “major medical” ...

Read more...

The insurance system for healthcare is perverse. The individual is not the customer of the healthcare company; in most cases it is the employer or the government (i.e., Medicare, Medicaid). They physician works for the insurer who determines for what and for how much the doctor is paid. But are the insurance companies the blame that is often placed on them for our current state of affairs? This system abrogates the ...

Read more...

Most of us will not have the opportunity to just die of “old age” or to simply fall to sleep one night never to wake again. Most often, we develop an illness which causes our death. These have changed markedly over the years. For the pioneers, accidents, infections, childbirth were times and causes of great likelihood of death. A century ago, infections were the leading causes of death. Today, we ...

Read more...

Is it possible that health care can become more effective, more personalized, more attuned to real health and wellness in a manner that truly benefits the patient as a customer/client? The answer is “yes” but it will require understanding the dysfunction in the delivery system today, dealing with the growing shortage of primary care physicians and their non-sustainable business model, changing the insurance paradigm from prepaid medical care to (high deductible) ...

Read more...

Most Popular

✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories