Dr. Bobbs says thanks to all his readers

As 2008 comes to a close, I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who has read the blog over the last three months.  I sincerely think we are seeing a turning of the tide with regard to primary care medicine in the United States.  After being on the ropes for years, we are seeing family medicine, internal medicine, and all the other disciplines that comprise primary care starting to reassert themselves and slowly but surely regain their place at the center of American medicine.  I say this without any trace of malice toward my specialist colleagues.  I applaud the fine work done day in, day out by emergency physicians, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, and all of my brother and sister physicians who practice specialized medicine.

As health care costs spiral out of control, as the population ages and the Baby Boomers begin entering Medicare, as health care itself shifts from the Age of Acute Illness to the Chronic Disease Era, it is time for primary care to come back from the fringes of American health care.  On its journey back to the forefront of medicine, primary care will experiment with new ways to fulfill its mission to provide the best possible health care for its patients.  Some of these experiments will have names like “electronic medical records” and “patient-centered medical home”.  Others will have names like “universal health care” and “concierge medicine”.  Some experiments will succeed.  Most will not.

There is no denying that American health care is in a crisis.  At the Convocation of the United Negro College Fund on April 12, 1959, President John F. Kennedy said the following:

When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and one represents opportunity.

While the crisis President Kennedy referred to involved the rise of Soviet communism, his basic point is equally applicable to 21st century health care.  “The danger signs are all around us,” said the President then, and our own health care crisis has its own dangers: government overregulation, the need for tort reform for medical malpractice, private insurance and pharmacy benefit manager interference with clinical decision making, skyrocketing health care costs, and a demoralized primary care work force.  But the health care industry, government, the news media, and the general public are becoming more acutely aware of the dangers as studies, surveys, government reports, and news stories make ignoring the dangers impossible.  Health care reform, however tentative and timid at first, is at last coming and coming soon.

As America goes down the path of health care reform, this blog will try to keep you up to date on the latest news, opinion, and information from the perspective of a practicing primary care physician.  Thanks for making the first several weeks of this blog a success!

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