Dr. Wendy Harpham is a doctor of internal medicine, cancer survivor, and award-winning and best-selling author of books about cancer: Healthy Survivorship, recovery and late effects, and raising children when a parent has cancer. She is also a public speaker, patient advocate, and mother of three.
One word that characterizes modern medicine is "rushed." Are the forces shaping modern medicine too many and too powerful to change the direction of our current path toward increasingly time-pressured, impersonal care?
Can we save time-consuming high-quality, compassionate care. Can we save time?
In today's culture, many people seem to expect definitive diagnoses--and quickly. How did this happen?
A short list of culprits might include:
a reimbursement structure that values high-tech interventions and short hospital stays
a third-party insurance system that makes it easier for families to demand (and doctors to order) more tests
social media that invites medical opinions of friends and family, as well as strangers—some with their own agendas
a federal government increasingly involved in the details of patient care, with policies shaped mostly by non-physicians.
Here and there, physicians and patients express nostalgia for a bygone era when medicine was simpler and clinicians had more time. Not me. The science and technology transforming modern medicine saved my life and spawned a survivor community over 13-million strong.
As I see it, our hope for tomorrow is tied to making changes that help clinicians with the demands on their time, as well as influencing the culture to value the time it takes for clinicians to optimize the use of science and technology in the care of each patient.
Next: Is today’s tide of change too powerful for clinicians to make a difference?
On September 28th I began a series, Saving Time, to talk about a great challenge in modern medicine: the time pressures on clinicians who strive to provide expert and compassionate care to each patient.
Compared to 30 years ago, routine tasks consume increasing amounts of time: