Cambridge, MA, February 17, 2010 — Sermo (http://www.sermo.com), the world’s largest online community for physicians, today announced its weekly hot topic. Nearly 500 physicians from 40 specialties participated in a Sermo post “It’s 3am. I can’t keep my solo practice open anymore” from a Family Medicine physician. Over 26% of respondents admitted they too had been forced to close, or are considering closing, their solo practice. This new polling data confirms the seriousness of many forecasts predicting a shortage of primary care physicians and sheds light on the many reasons physicians are choosing to leave the profession.
Primary care bears the brunt of the burden of managing costs in our current health system. We do this with the least resources (5% of total budget) and the broadest set of tasks: coordinate care for all patients across the continuum of the health system in spite of its fractured and non-communicative nature.
I love being a primary care physician. I'm particularly lucky that I've come across models of care that make it possible for me to practice medicine the way my patients deserve: unfettered access, no wasted time, focus on the patient and their needs instead of the insurance company policies.
The good news for the insurance companies is that when I focus on the needs of my patients I actually help them get better results and total costs go down.
The other good news is that more and more PCPs are throwing aside the learned helplessness and creating their own practice environments that support exemplary primary care.
Too many of my colleagues feel trapped in a system that sucks every last ounce of energy and professionalism from them as they attempt to do right by their patients. Too much of their energies are diverted into shoring up this dysfunctional and frankly harmful system.
If they stop trying to shore it up and spend that energy on their patient needs we may have more than enough primary care supply to meet the nation's needs.
Solo practice is not dead. It's thriving in places where your colleagues have crafted supportive environments.
No one out there will do this for you - they are all tied up by their investment in the status quo or playing political chicken - so stop waiting for someone else to solve the problem.
Pull yourself out of the muck and join the swelling ranks of those who choose to focus on their patients and not insurance policies. Other have gone before and there's help (here is one example and here is another). You don't have to go it alone.