"Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity." — Hippocrates
The patient doctor relationship has long been revered. However, there are many challenges currently assailing this time honored relationship. Modern times have brought new factors into consideration. Lack of timely access to care and the high cost of medicine are the principal complaints of most Americans. Insurance company and government agency attempts at addressing these problems too often result in cumbersome and unintentional policies that can actually degrade the patient doctor relationship.
Some of the more familiar issues are associated with implementation of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), the burdensome provisions of the HITECH act (which requires physicians and hospitals to convert to electronic medical records in ways that do not enhance patient care), and the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), a failed attempt to modify reimbursement for medical care that was recently repealed after two decades of tumultuous debate. Where general consensus and intention meet among all sides of the political spectrum, the technical components of getting there too often abound in conflict.
So let us focus where there is general consensus and avoid unnecessary consternation, keeping our minds on the prize: preserving the patient doctor relationship.
We probably all would agree that we wish to keep our preferred doctors who have treated us and are familiar with our histories. We want a relationship that has developed over years or even decades. We want to be able to see a variety of doctors, no matter what insurance, health care system, or hospital they may be affiliated without encountering barriers along the way. We want our doctors to follow us no matter what hospital we may be admitted to. Ideally, one should be able to see a physician of their choosing and seek care within a system that provides communication and continuity.
These are the goals of a large group of Coachella Valley doctors who have organized themselves into a network of providers to enhance patient choice and access. Desert Valley Independent Physicians (DVIP) group offers patients many choices across numerous specialties and helps facilitate timely access to care. Members share a willingness and commitment to develop an integrated health care network within the desert cities that fosters access to all health care providers. Their primary mission is to be a "gateway to trust and competency" for patients and to focus on wellness and preventative medicine.
Many of these doctors are already volunteer faculty with the newest medical school in California in 50 years – The University of California Riverside (UCR) School of Medicine. Several will be training the first UCR family practice resident class this summer.
Another objective of DVIP is the pursuit of health cost transparency. Members concur that all potential costs should be discussed with patients up front to help them negotiate through the "health cost fog." Furthermore, this group advocates for medical decisions to be made merit- based and upon academic pursuits, considering evidence-based medicine to guide health and longevity.
Change is inevitable, and positive change first starts with awareness. Many of us doctors share the same concerns as our patients and are actively working to restore and preserve the patient doctor relationship.
Dr. Hancock is a board certified neuroradiologist and can be reached at Desert Medical Imaging (760) 694.9559. www.desertmedicalimaging.com. For more information on Desert Valley Independent Physicians, visit DesertDoctors.org or call (760) 232.4646.