If your experience has been anything like my own, your doctor knows little if anything about you and it is not their fault. Physicians answer to health insurance companies and the insurance companies call the shots. Primary care doctors are required to see upwards of thirty patients a day! It can take weeks to get an appointment with a primary care provider in the United States and the average office visit lasts ten to twelve minutes. It is literally impossible for your doctor to get to know you, your medical history, sleeping habits, nutritional needs, exercise and fitness level, etc. in that short a period of time. You are lucky if your doctor is able to get a basic understanding of the particular symptom that you are in their office for and attempt to prescribe the correct medication of course of action for you that quickly, let alone learn anything about you.
Again, I need to stress that this is not your doctor’s fault. They have to see an endless line of patients and care for their needs as quickly as possible due to the structure of our insurance based healthcare system. Your doctor did not go to medical school to only have ten minutes with their patients. Primary care doctors are the lowest paid and most over worked physicians in the American healthcare system and that is a shame.
I have been a firefighter and an EMT for thirteen years. I learn more about my patients in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital than my doctor knows about me. I have had surgery, been transported to the emergency room and hospitalized since the last time I saw my primary care provider. Our system is not designed for him to be informed about my medical care. How can my doctor be expected to provide for my healthcare needs when he has no knowledge of my conditions, injuries, hospitalizations, current medications or if I am even alive. I am not being sarcastic. That is my relationship with my primary care doctor, who I really like and think is a great doc.
It isn’t his fault. The system prevents him from having the time he would need to get know me and my medical needs and thus being able to provide me with quality medical care. This insane system has lead to the birth of a new model of delivering primary medical care and that new model is called Direct Primary Care. In the DPC model patients become members of a DPC doctor’s practice and pay a monthly fee, just like a gym membership. For the patient’s low membership fee they typically receive unlimited office visits, same and next day appointments, unhurried time with their provider and have no co pays. Some Direct Primary Care practices even provide house calls for no additional fee.
The reason doctor’s, nurse practitioners and physician assistants all over the nation are starting DPC practices is because they want to know their patients. They want to provide real medical care. They want to be quality healthcare providers and not employees of a health insurance company.
So I ask you again, how well does your doctor know you?