I feel the peers in my age group and I grew up during an interesting span of time, straddling a more low-tech, more innocent time and the dawn of the Internet, Smartphones, and texting. I “tuned in” to television shows like The Superfriends, Happy Days, and The Bionic Woman. Now I appreciate the convenience of being able to stream a movie or commercial-free television episode when I have the time. I grew up writing and receiving letters from family and friends, especially when I went away for college – before unlimited “talk and text” was even a concept, and I had to ration how much time I spent making long distance calls. Months would go by without seeing family, as there was no “facetime,” Skype, or digital video files to easily email/text.
I think a lot of us who have experienced these very different times can appreciate the changes that have occurred in medicine. I was one of those kiddos who had ear infection after ear infection and remember frequent trips to the pediatrician. Visits were not rushed. My doctor was like family. He knew more about me than just my diagnosis. He had a way that comforted my concerned mother. Today, we have more chronic disease, more cancer, more pharmaceuticals being prescribed, and more technology to facilitate imaging, surgeries/procedures, and record keeping. Many providers are positioned between patients and their hospital and/or insurance company employers who might dictate how their patient time is spent. Computer-based medical records save more patient data than ever; however there may be a feeling of less interaction with the provider behind the computer keyboard who is pressured to see as many patients as possible over the day. It takes less time to prescribe a treatment than to counsel about prevention. It is not surprising that while we are grateful we have more treatment options for what ails us, many of us find ourselves longing for that personal touch we remembered from our doctors of yore.
I am someone who tries to create “win-win” situations. I feel we don’t always have to choose, but rather find ways to have the best of everything. Medicine should not be an exception. Why can’t we use the best of technology to make medical records more accurate, facilitate provider-patient communication, and use more computer-based tools for patient resources and education? Why can’t we do this and still offer meaningful face-to-face visits that stress prevention, self-care, and improvement of quality of life with interventions that have been proven to work? This is what I hope to accomplish by embarking on this adventure of opening a small, independent practice. I wish to do what I love and to incorporate the best aspects of the past, present, and future of medical care. While the goal of the new office will be to use technology in a meaningful way to allow more convenient access to providers between visits and after office hours, it does not intend to do this at the expense of becoming a patient assembly line. It is the intention the women who seek services at my office will leave feeling their needs were addressed, they were listened to, and they understand their diagnosis or feel a new call to action to improve their health.