Funny for a doctor to post an article about firing your doctor, I get it, but I am doing so because this provides insight into the general dissatisfaction with healthcare.
The article points out that a patient’s unhappiness with their care is directly proportional to the doctor’s burn-out. I can relate to that. I never hated medicine, even when I saw 25 patients a day. I loved my patients, and colleagues and the staff that worked so hard to hold the whole jumbled mess together. I didn’t do it for 30 years however, and I know that I am lucky in some way, to have a partner, my husband who so clearly supports my crazy dream that is Ashewell Medical Group.
No doctor is a wizard (although my kids would love this), but there is a certain magic to the interaction that occurs between a patient and doctor who gets them. A medical education is valuable. I use mine to present a patient with options, to give them them a differential diagnosis, the natural history of disease, available treatments and the alternatives of what happens statistically when you don’t treat. There is little wonderment created in that conversation. It is necessary but it is not doctoring. A monkey could memorize a book and spit out the variables.
Doctoring is in the listening, it is in the belief that all humans deserve respect and the option to flourish. Doctoring is in the bond you form with a stranger who has come into a little white room to share their most intimate details. It is in the trust placed in your hands as you examine them. Doctoring isn’t a 7 minute visit in which you offer a person an antibiotic for their UTI. Again, monkeys, robots, computers, can all accomplish this most necessary task. You don’t need to fire a monkey. They do what they do. When you want care, however, you should look for a doctor. If you can’t find one, its because the current predominant model of healthcare delivery in this country undermines care and focuses on productivity.
Of course, you too would focus on productivity if you made 40 cents on every dollar billed by a physician, which is true of insurance as a whole. But this is what it is and is not the focus of my writing today. I don’t have a study for what we do at Ashewell. I don’t have evidence that our care is more effective. I have a collection of smiles, some tears, hugs, phone calls, emails, cards, which prove to me the power of time and the simple belief that doctoring is still magic in every way.