What does it mean to "value" the time and expertise of primary care clinicians (PCPs)?
Playing off the adage about love, my answer is this: "Don't tell me you value me; show me you value me."
As I said to commenter Finn on my last post, one way to show the world we value a PCP's 30-minute consultation with a patient is by reimbursing such a visit on a par with what a specialist might get for a 30-minute procedure.
For this to happen legislators and the public must understand the essential role of PCPs in helping patients be Healthy Survivors. In the world of modern medicine, a PCP acts like:
- An orchestra conductor for a symphony of specialists, responsible for critical behind-the-scenes efforts that ultimately leads everyone to work in harmony toward excellent patient care.
- A teacher, helping patients obtain and process available information in ways that help patients make wise decisions, comply with therapies and live as fully as possible.
- A parent, advocating for patients and supporting patients while, at the same time, respecting patients' autonomy as much as possible.
For PCPs to serve these roles, our culture must place a high value on the time and skill it takes to listen to patients with compassion and expertise. Please take moment to read "Value Doctors as Listeners to Prevent Primary Care Burnout" by Claudia M. Gold, M.D. on KevinMD blog. Gold and I agree: We all need to value the role of PCP as listener.