Everyone needs healthcare, some more than others, due to chronic or long term illnesses…but are we in a healthcare crisis? Is there a lack of ‘good’ doctors in the field, or is it something we think is true? After doing some research and literally asking some of my own doctors this question, I’d say…yes, there are plenty of problems in our system. However, how it all began is somewhat vague to me; though I have my own opinion.
You might be surprised to know that Primary Physicians as well as Family Practitioners are now facing a shortage in the U.S. and the numbers are staggering. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts the shortage to be as many as 122,000 physicians by 2032. The numbers are divided, projecting shortages to be shared between primary doctors (21,100-55,200) and specialty docs (24,800-65,800). I’ve already felt the crunch when it comes to doctors, because it takes months to get in for specialty physician. A scheduled endoscopy was done in June and the follow-up appointment was scheduled for October! I was in disbelief, but according to the doctors’ receptionist, that’s how far ‘established’ patients are being booked out; it’s sheer craziness.
The growing and aging population is driving up the demand for physicians, and those doctors we’ve had for most of our lives…are seeking retirement soon; some have even taken earlier retirements, due to the changes in our healthcare systems. The quality of care is also suffering. I just read that doctors have an average of 8 minutes to meet, greet and diagnose their patients, which we all know is merely impossible. I’ve been told by a doctor that I’m a complicated patient, which is valid. Having many specialty doctors, I feel I can tell the good from the ‘not’ so good physicians. What’s most difficult is to find is one that cares enough about their patients to not give up on them; meaning they’re willing to take on the challenge of diagnosing the issue. If it’s not in their ‘wheelhouse’ so-to-speak, then they just send you to the next one.
Another problem in the healthcare field…Communication. Years ago, physicians actually spoke with one another about their patients, but then computers became the way instead of paper charts. So, while some were excited about this progress, others not so much. Physicians had to learn computers, while trying to concentrate on their patients. Recently in one of my office visits they were upgrading their computer systems and my doctor (close to retirement) expressed a lot of frustration with the computer, while others had eagerly accepted it. Also, the electronic chart is how they communicate with colleagues in what they call a ‘Smart Chart.’ It’s an electronic health record chart, and is readily used by all physicians, no matter where services were provided.
Part of the declining health field (as far as cost) is in the Emergency Rooms. Not the ER itself, but those who abuse it, are costing Americans everywhere. I’ve been in the ER with a real illness, but I see people that shouldn’t be there (someone with a cold); and then bring 5 family members that want to hang out for television viewing or meals; seriously? Now hospitals have to put up signs, “Please, Only 1 Person Allowed” or something similar. Is our healthcare changing today? You bet it is, and it’s not going in a good direction. You can find other statistics at the AAMC website aamc.org
One last mention…a blog by a physician that truly cares and shares excellent articles (Kevin MD)….and remember, we must all be our own advocates for better health.
Make your week count.