Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Personal Touch

I was interviewed today by a reporter from one of the local newspapers to discuss my "unique" practice. My practice is following the "Gordon Moore model" emphasizing low overhead, minimal barriers, maximum accessibility via cellphone and e-mail. I described how I have no employees, in order to keep my overhead low, and how in return, I am able to spend more face-to-face time with patients. The reporter seemed impressed, so I'm hoping for a positive news story that might generate more patients.

Lately, I've been finding more news articles about physicians trying to "take back" medical care from the hassles imposed by 3rd party insurers and improve the overall physician-patient experience. Here's are two (1)(2) articles about Dr. Michael Stein in Hampstead, New Hampshire, who is starting a retainer fee practice with many of the same goals I have: more personalized care, flexibility in hours, house calls, unrushed doctor visits. His website is at

Dr. Vladmir Lorentz is highlighted in this article which talks about various businesses doing things the old-fashioned way.

This article talks about how rural medicine has a lot to offer, but seems to be dying out.
As a rural practitioner, Haynes said he loves what he does, especially the close relationship with patients.

''I have never had a burnout in medicine,'' he said. ''Every day I look forward to practicing medicine. I know all the families ... know the type of work the husbands do. I interact with the families as friends and as patients."

I think that this is what attracts many to the specialty of family medicine, getting to know people and their families in a personal, even intimate way that only a few ever get to experience. To be able to share in others' lives. I've always been amazed at some of the things people tell me that they would never tell their spouse or priest/pastor. I think this relationship is something that has been endangered for some time by the modern medical system, by appointment systems that prevent patients from seeing their own doctors, by 3rd party insurers that place restrictions on treatment options.

This opinion piece written by a general practitioner in the UK laments the "end of the patient-doctor relationship".

In an ideal system, the physician not only cares for the patient, but cares about them, too. Also, the patient cares about the physician, is respectful of his/her time, concerned for their lives. A couple of days ago, I got an e-mail from the mother of a boy I saw two months ago. She was reminding me that I hadn't billed her yet! How often does that happen???