Primary Care in 2009

What's Ahead?What does 2009 have in store for primary care?  No one, including yours truly, can say for sure.  It depends on the direction and magnitude of health care reform and the magnitude in particular will depend on how the broader economy goes.

The economic forecast for 2009 ranges from a recovery beginning in the second quarter of the year to no significant recovery until 2010.  One prognosticator predicts “the innovation of entrepreneurial capitalists, brought forth by the creative destruction of the current crisis…will put the world back onto the path of growth”.  It is probably safe to predict that 2009 will not see a dramatic financial recovery for the United States.  This will quite likely put major (and expensive) health care reform on hold.  We may see expansion of State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the like, but dramatic reform will likely be put off until the economy is backs on its feet.

Another fairly safe prediction is that we will continue to hear more stories in the mainstream media related to the lack of primary care providers.  The challenge for primary care will be to position itself to take advantage of the growing public awareness of the dire need to reinvigorate American medicine.  Hopefully, the leadership at organizations like the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians are preparing for this.  Individual physicians and others who are interested in promoting the interests of primary care can also help to spread the word by writing to their elected officials (written letters are generaly more effective than e-mails) and by penning letters to the editor or opinion pieces in their local newspapers.  And, of course, there’s always blogging and Sermo.

Finally, it’s a sure thing that 2009 will have its fair share of humor, outrage, opinion (informed and uniformed), progress, and setbacks.  I’ll do my best to cover it all here on Dr. Bobbs.

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