I Needed A Physical
posted 1/10/2010 by Tom
I have a doctor for the first time in years, and he recently scared the heck out of me…several times.
He was the internist who caught my father-in-law's cancer early enough to gave him another 10 years. Though he was off putting at first, after a year, I kind of liked the guy. After a handful of visits in a few years, he has enough in my medical record to at least feign remembering me.
That said, I spent a great deal of time in doctors offices as a kid and into college (the 80's and early 90's), and it is readily apparent that the good old days when doctors knew who you were, are long gone.
I went for a physical because I hadn't seen a doctor in 10 years and I had just become a first time father at 36. I told the appointment lady as much, and I sat in the waiting room for 15 minutes filling out paperwork, which was to be expected. During the next 15 minutes I spent alone in the exam room, however, I read all the diplomas and notices posted on the walls.
The diplomas were suitably impressive, but the notices were odd. One informed patients that they had to inform the doctor in advance that this was a “wellness check” per their insurance before a doctor could perform a physical. As I had told the lady when I made the appointment that I needed a physical and hadn't seen a doctor in a decade, I assumed this was understood.
The nurse took my weight, temperature, and blood pressure, and the doctor came in to ask about my medical history and tell me that my blood pressure was really high. Five minutes later, I was in my car wondering if I had had a physical.
Whether it's called concierge medicine, boutique care, or retainer based medical treatment, quality of care is the goal of both doctors and patients considering this growing field of more personalized medicine.
Even those with excellent health insurance recognize that our medical care is carefully scripted by the insurance companies, and that insurance companies are driven by numbers.
Too often, we spend hours in waiting rooms, minutes with doctors, and weeks wondering why tests were ordered. Worse still is the all too common uncertainty about what the results actually mean. This clearly explains why health related issues are easily the most searched for topic on the Internet.
It turns out that many primary care physicians (i.e. family doctors) are just as frustrated by our existing system. With patient loads as high as 3,000 to 4,000, with doctors spending little more than 15 minutes with their average patient, and with the huge overhead necessary to deal with paperwork and the rapidly evolving public and private insurer rules, doctors are becoming just as fed up as their underserved patients.
Membership based medicine, concierge medical practices, or whatever term is used to describe this growing field of highly attentive medicine (as its founder calls it), may not be the answer to what ails our sick health care system. However, it is growing by leaps and bounds because patients and doctors have to deal with today's realities.
This web site is dedicated to providing an honest assessment of a medical trend that promises to become a battle ground as our nation addresses a health care system that is obviously broken. We will continue to publish and comment on all sides of the debate. We will also do our best to act as an honest resource for patients and doctors considering some type of direct care option. We encourage all comments, and promise to post all perspectives.