Route 66: that iconic American landmark representing all that was good in days gone by. It was a simpler time, then, and you could navigate across the country through single-stoplight towns filled with mom-and-pop stores and five-and-dime lunch counters. Healthcare was simpler then too. Your family doctor knew your name, your face, and maybe had been your doctor since you were born. It used to be that you could go see the doctor, be treated and return to your own life without seemingly involving the entire medical community.
What has our health care system become? It's a bureaucratized super-store where the patient is a number, not a name, and doctors are bound by red tape and paperwork, where all find it difficult to navigate.
As a family physician in active practice for 25 years I have seen the changes. For every step forward in technology, we have taken two steps back in the ability to deliver compassion. Physicians and medical personnel now appear more attached to computers than to their patients. And instead of saving money, the costs to all parties have skyrocketed, forming all types of barriers to receiving first-rate health care. These barriers bother me particularly because I practice family medicine, which ought to be the most personal healthcare available.
I started becoming frustrated five years ago, when I found myself spending more time documenting what I had done than actually doing it. It was time for a change. After looking at several models, I learned about Direct Primary Care (DPC). This concept has restoring the doctor-patient relationship at its roots. But it does not stop there. DPC tries to break down the barriers to receiving healthcare: Doctors are able to spend more time with patients, the restraints of the insurance world are removed, and the overall costs to the healthcare system and the patients themselves are frequently reduced. Plus, DPC has the potential to encourage new physicians to want to enter our field of family practice, which I believe to be the best field in medicine.
As I start this new practice, Landmark MD, I am once again excited. I am encouraged to be able to promote wellness, explore healthcare topics with groups of patients, spend true quality time with them and return to the ideals that brought me here in the first place.