A personal, caring relationship with your internal medicine physician is fundamental. Not just for you, but for your family and for me. I want to know all of my patients personally, understand their physical and emotional backgrounds, and have plenty of time to care for them. I became an internist because I love caring for people.
"It is simply not possible to give excellent care to patients in a quick, easy or offhand fashion... Time personally spent with the patient is the most essential ingredient of excellence in clinical practice. There are simply no shortcuts and no substitutions." - Philip Tumulty, MD. The Art of Healing.
Ironically, what is now being cut out of health care is the ability to communicate with patients. In traditional, big-hospital systems, internists simply do not have time for the most important part of the job. Almost every health care system "solution" proposes to reduce the amount of time you spend with an actual physician. I'll increase it, not reduce it!
"The physician quality in greatest economic demand [by the traditional system] appears to be speed - essentially a process metric. Other measures of physician quality have become effectively devalued, so long as they don't immediately lead to a bad outcome (no one wants a hack surgeon). Physicians lament that the system doesn't care if you are really good anymore." - David Shaywitz, medical writer for Forbes
A relationship means you have time to ask questions
A good relationship with anyone, not just your doctor, means you have time to talk and ask plenty of questions. I love this about my concierge medical practice: my patients are engaged in their health care and often have many questions.
Dialog with your doctor is important because it leads to understand and engagement. I have learned over the years that patients that understand what is happening are both more relaxed and in more control of their health. Medicine is about more than data and prescriptions.
In the 1960's people loved Marcus Welby style health care. I am bringing a form of this back, a half century later.
Medical care should not resemble a factory
Medicine isn't a factory assembly line to me, and it's not a hampster wheel. As this NY Times piece points out, even the language and terminology of big medical systems has gotten calculating and sterile. To me, being your doctor is about a personal relationship that leads to your understanding, engagement, and peace of mind.