Viewpoint: Doctors want quality time with patients

March 10, 2013

Medical Economics readers continue to discuss the delicate balance between bringing in money and providing quality care to patients.

I started reading the January 25, 2013, issue of Medical Economics when one of the docs I work for handed me the “Your Money” article from the issue. (“As hospital ranks swell, salary pressure could, too.”)

That being a great piece, I continued working my way backwards through this publication until I eventually got to the letter in the Talk Back section from L.J. Bookhardt-Murray, MD (“Doctor adapts, and loves the job”). I want to comment that I am blessed to work for two docs who felt much the same way about wanting more quality time for their patients and opened the first retainer-based family medicine practice in the Houston, Texas, area in January 2006.

I worked 6 months for them when they were in a traditional model practicing with another doctor in a large clinic that saw well over 100 patients a day. Being new to working in a medical practice, I was totally unprepared for how hectic and stressful the days were for the docs and the staff. Patients were frustrated, too, because the time they had to spend with the doc was very limited.

Coming out of a background oriented toward customer service, I was thrilled when they announced their decision to enter into a new model of practicing medicine, and even more so when they allowed me to come with them.

Concierge medicine has given them the ability to, as Dr. Bookhardt-Murray put it in his letter, “provide excellent care for all of their patients, effectively coordinate care, speak to their specialist and walk them through sickness, loss and death.” These two docs didn’t give up medicine; they gave up a broken system and built their own, and it is working for them, their staff, and most importantly, their patients.

Thank you for lots of great articles. I will ask my bosses to pass your publication on to me every month.

Helen Burgess
Sugar Land, Texas

 

Patient care is what should matter most

All the letters in the December 25, 2012, Talk Back section were good because the writers spoke from the heart, and it is fair to assume that they represented the great majority of physicians’ attitudes toward recertification.

The letter by Paul Kempen, MD, PhD, hit the bull’s eye when he said that patients want compassionate and experienced physicians, not distracted scholars who are preoccupied about taking the next test.

Clearly, the risk is real that we are fostering a generation of physicians who are crammers and test-takers, whose main interest is ensuring that all their credentials are in order, and for whom taking care of patients has become secondary.

Honest expression on this contentious issue rarely sees the light of day in the scholastic journals, which if they do publish anything, water it down with academic prose that often is disconnected from the reality and anger that many physicians harbor.

Like many other physicians I applaud Medical Economics for its persistence and courage in keeping this issue alive in its pages.

Edward J. Volpintesta, MDBethel, Connecticut

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