I started practice as a young family practitioner in Princeton, MN in 1969. At this time there were no residencies in Family Practice or Emergency Medicine. It was prior to the days of HMOs and practice management companies. The practice management companies probably started out with the altruistic belief they could help physicians by freeing up time to the physician in order to have more time available for seeing patients. A noble thought to be sure.
Let us move back in time a couple years. In 1972 my partner, Norm Metcalf and I stewed for at least one or two weeks trying to decide if it would be OK for us to increase our office call charges from $5 to $6. We eventually did this.
This was definitely a different time in medicine. When patients did not have money to pay for medical care, we often cared for them for nothing. It was more of a time when physicians could actually meet their patients in public and know their names and what was going on with their families. It was a wonderful time to be a physician. We didn’t have quotas and time limits. We could spend the time needed with our patients. The new way of making physicians see patients within certain time limits or meeting a quota just does not work or provide for good patient care.
It is no wonder. It takes much longer if you are dealing with a family who has just lost a child than the five minutes to diagnose and treat a case of poison ivy.
Please send these blogs onto your friends. It will take a ground swell from our youth to change our American compass heading.