Why You and Your PCP Are So Fed Up - Fixing The Primary Care Crisis

PCPs are frustrated, very frustrated.

"I felt like a hamster on a wheel. Patients want time and I could not give it to them. I was in a failed profession."

"I was charged (by my HMO employer) with 2200 patients, mostly sick patients, and I was paid $120,000. That's too many patients at any price; I had to see about 20 per day. I couldn't get them seen and do all the documentation except during my 'family' time. I crawled into bed exhausted with 'nothing left' yet it started again tomorrow morning." Every PCP said that not having enough time was the greatest frustration of their practice. Every PCP I spoke with knew that they could not give patients the time needed to give the level of care they were capable of giving and that their patients deserved.

And what about you, the patient? "The Patient Will No Longer Be Patient" is an apt expression for the changing nature of a patient's expectation with his or her doctor. In prior generations, the expectation was that the doctor was not to be questioned, that he or she knew what was right, that long waits were just part of the experience and that patients simply were not educated enough to understand their medical problem - just do as the doctor says. That is no longer the case.

You do not like the current medical care delivery system. You may like your doctor on a personal basis but are nevertheless frustrated that it takes an average of 20.5 days from a phone call to a doctor's office until seen; that you sit in the waiting room for a protracted time; that you may get only a few minutes of actual in-person time with your doctor; that you feel your PCP did not fully listen or understand you; that you were not fully informed regarding your doctor's thought process or why a certain test or prescription was ordered.

Listening and listening more deeply and for longer periods of time is the first request by patients of their PCPs. A recent survey documented that what patients/consumers really want is empathy: a doctor who listens nonjudgmentally. This requires that your physician is attuned to you and you alone during this critical period of interaction.



Copyright (c) Stephen C. Schimpff, MD