Traditional Health Care Losing Family Practices

My family                   physician retired on December 30th. He’s probably in his mid- . When asked why he is retiring so early he wouldn’t give an answer. I guess it has to do with the doctor-patient incongruity we all have been seeing from our family medical doctors. The word incongruity means being unable to exist or work in congenial combination. Shred in secrecy, I’ll never know why he retired early. It probably can be explained with the findings of a new survey released by The Physicians’ Foundation which depicts widespread frustration and concern among primary care physicians nationwide. Widespread frustration is leading to a dramatic decrease in doctors and early retirement. The survey examined the causes behind the doctors’ dissatisfaction, the state of their practices and the future of care.

The resulting findings show the possibility of significantly decreased access for Americans in the years ahead; as many doctors are forced to reduce the number of patients they see or quit the practice of medicine outright. An overwhelming majority – 78 percent – of physicians believe that there is an existing shortage of primary care doctors in the United States today. Additionally, nearly half of them – 49 percent, or more than 150,000   doctors- say that over the next three years they plan to reduce the number of patients they see or stop  entirely. “Going into this project we generally knew about the shortage of physicians; what we didn’t know is how much worse it could get over the next few years,” said Lou Goodman, PhD, President of The Physicians’ Foundation. “The bottom line is that the person you’ve known as your family doctor could be getting ready to disappear – and there might not be a replacement.”

Fortunately, my doctor found another physician willing to take his existing patients. After more than 16 years with my former physician I’ve now got to grow accustomed to another doctor who might or might not understand my medical needs as well as my former doctor. My thick medical files were transferred the last day of 2008. It makes me a little nervous to know I have to find a renewed trust in someone I do not know or never met. Health-care in the United States and even locally is getting a little scary.

The Physicians’ Foundation believes the future of primary care could have a significant impact on the American healthcare debate. “At a time when the new Administration and new Congress are talking about ways to expand access to healthcare, the harsh reality is that there might not be enough doctors to handle the increased number of people who might want to see them if they get health insurance,” said Walker Ray, MD, Vice President of The Physicians’ Foundation. “It’s as if we’re talking about expanding access to higher education without having enough professors to handle the influx of students.

It’s basic supply and demand.” The reported reasons for the widespread frustration among physicians include increased time dealing with non-clinical paperwork, difficulty receiving reimbursement and burdensome government regulations. Physicians say these issues keep them from the most satisfying aspect of their job: patient relationships. “Tens of thousands of primary care doctors face the same problems as millions of ordinary citizens: frustrations in dealing with  and government red tape,” said Sandra Johnson, Board Member of The Physicians’ Foundation. “The thing we heard over and over again from the physicians was that they’re unhappy they can’t spend more time with their patients, which is why they went into primary care in the first place.” With the medical profession in such a deep funk it leaves room for alternative doctors and therapies which have traditionally been scorned by the medical profession itself. Take my chiropractor, for instance. He has even moved further inward with his practice offering not only basic chiropractic care but adding a more Holistic approach to his practice.

He’s added massage therapy, acupuncture and offers an alternative cleansing of the body. Choices in health care will change even greater in the years to come. The traditional family practitioners will more likely than not offer more than prescription drugs. They might even sell natural remedies i.e. herbal and natural medicines out of their own office. It is already happening in some parts of the United States. The new doctor in our society will have to understand the mind, body and Spirit functionality and treat them all as One. We are One mind, body and Spirit so we must treat it as such.



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