Thursday, June 26, 2014


I was returning from the country of Panama where I had gone to attend my nephew's graduation from law school. As I was going through immigration upon entering the United States, the immigration officer and me had the following conversation:

"What do you do?" asked the immigration officer.

"I'm a physician." he answered.

He continued to look through my passport and at his computer screen.

"You know" he said, "I used to go to my doctor and have enough time to tell him about what was wrong and things I wanted to discuss regarding my health. The last time I went, I waited about 3 hours for my appointment and it felt like it was all over in 15 seconds. He didn't have time to talk to me! He had to rush because he was only given so much time per patient. He did not want to listen to my questions. He asked me to make another appointment for those.

"I went to the Cleveland Clinic and felt like the doctor there took his time with me."

Healthcare is changing. Some clinics stay afloat by using a 'production' model -- physician's salaries are based on how many patients they see -- the more they see, the more they get paid. Other clinics pay their physicians a fixed salary, regardless of the volume of patients they see. In the latter model, there must be some honor system that physicians will not be lazy and skip out on seeing patients. They do get to take the amount of time they feel necessary to meet their patient's needs.

I believe in addressing my patients' needs. So I run late. Oh well.

What is the answer?

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