Here's another recent news article about a family physician in Kansas City, Missouri who is revamping his practice to better serve his patients: Trying to keep it all in the family:
Need to make an appointment? You can call Soper's office in Kansas City, Mo., in the morning and see him that day.
All your medical records will be computerized. Your prescriptions, printed by computer, will be perfectly legible.
"Patients really like it," Soper says of his approach. "And it makes it a little easier for us to survive."
Survival is on the minds of many family physicians, the better-trained version of the general practitioners of a generation ago.
They can rightly claim that they're already an economical source of quality care. But many say the future of their beleaguered field may depend on more doctors changing their practices, as Soper has done.
He sounds like he is doing much of the same things that I and many other doctors are trying, which is to foment a Revolution. I'm not trying to change the US healthcare system, at least not all of it at the same time. I'm just trying to change my little corner of the world, and maybe it'll work and work so well that others will look up and say, "Hey, that's a great idea. Let me try that."
Still, being a Revolutionary would be a lot easier if I could get some press about my practice, too. Coincidentally, I attended a local chamber of commerce meeting today which was also attended by advertising executives from a large local newspaper. I introduced myself and described my kind of "Gordon Moore" family practice: same day appointments, no waiting, 24 hour a day access via cellphone or e-mail, house calls. They said they would pass the word to someone in the editorial section, and maybe I could get a news story out of it.
The local cable TV advertising executive was there also, and he suggested that targeted TV commercials, especially to a female audience (since many women decide who the family doctor is going to be, so he said), could be very effective. Hmmm. I'm not so sure about that. I can't ever remember seeing a TV commercial for a family doctor before. Besides Marcus Welby, M.D., that is. I would be concerned that I'd come out looking like a cheesy infomercial doctor.
I arranged to meet with the cable TV advertising executive two days from now. Somewhat troubling is that when I gave him my office address, he recognized it immediately and said he had worked with another tenant in the building last year. The other tenant was a Chinese herbalist - whose office I took over. If this is a reflection of how well TV commercials helped his business, then it does not appear to be a very promising method of marketing a physician's practice.
Best quote from Dr. Marcus Welby a.k.a. Robert Young:
According to an article in McCall's magazine, a doctor said to Young at a convention of family physicians, "You're getting us all into hot water. Our patients tell us we're not as nice to them as Doctor Welby is to his patients." Young didn't mince words. "Maybe you're not," he replied.