One Less Primary Care Doctor
â€œI have had three different primary care doctors over the past 10 years,â€? said Mrs. J. â€œYou canâ€™t leave now. I was just starting to feel comfortable. I am getting older now. I canâ€™t keep changing doctors!â€?
Todayâ€™s primary care lament comes to us via a Boston Globe op ed by Annie Brewster, who left primary care after only a few years and now works as an urgent care doc at Mass General.
Like most of the laments weâ€™ve been reading lately, the piece talks about how primary care docs are â€œdrowning,â€? overwhelmed by endless days of back-to-back, brief patient encounters. Brewsterâ€™s suggestions for change are pretty standard â€” pay more for things like communication and care coordination, and reward doctors for keeping patients healthy.
But, as the tale of Mrs. J suggests, the op-ed also connects the frustrations of primary care doctors with the frustrations and fears of primary care patients. â€œI am most troubled by the antagonistic state of the patient-doctor relationship,â€? Brewster writes. â€œThe system sets us against each other.â€?
She describes walking into an exam room and introducing herself to a patient â€” only to be told by the patient that they had met before. â€œPatients are angry,â€? she writes, describing the impersonal treatment, long waits, rushed visits and lacking follow-up that are typical elements of a trip to the doctor. â€œWe are not offering high-quality care.â€?