We Need More “Regular Doctors”

An article in the New York Times this week talks about the difference between primary care physicians and specialists Read Article Here.  Trying to explain just exactly what a primary care physician does reflects the difference between the more procedurally-oriented specialists who focus on a narrow, specific problem, and the “cognitive” physicians whose job it is to care for the whole person, provide needed preventive care, and determine what may be wrong in the early, undifferentiated stages of disease. Although it is the quality of primary care that largely determines the health of a population, the American health care payment system has not figured out how to adequately pay for these valuable services, because so much of the work involves talking and counseling and explaining and taking time—the very things that health care consumers complain is missing from health care. We could fix this disparity without spending one additional dime on health care, but it would involve difficult choices, and as we all know, we aren’t very good at that.

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