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Family Physicians Take the Brunt of Shifting U.S. Healthcare System

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We've noted many times before on this blog that the American healthcare system is quite obviously going through a paradigm shift, one that is both painful and productive at the same time. Because this shift is so drastic, there are bound to be casualties along the way, casualties that seem to be affecting a particular class of physicians—family physicians (FPs).

Recently, a family physician told us that he was tired of being one of these casualties and was relocating to Canada. He cited several specific reasons for this shocking move. First, he had personally witnessed the decline of FPs over the last 20 years, especially with the restructuring of American medicine to be hospital and specialist-centered. Second, because of this restructuring, the evolving goal of hospitals was to capture all patient business that would be profitable within their system so they could maximize their revenue.

Third, this need for profit, our FP observed, meant that family physicians would be left with the rest of the business, i.e., the business that is unprofitable, unmanageable, and undesirable.

But why would he relocate to Canada? Simple. According to him, “…there is still a primary care-centered system that believes in comprehensive and continuous care by FPs.”

We found this to be fascinating.

A little over a week ago, I had an extensive conversation with a Canadian healthcare professional who clearly delineated ways in which the Canadian system, even with its wait times, was still more desirable than the American system in the way it delivered care. His reasoning was substantive and compelling and flew in the face of the hot-button diatribes one finds on cable news shows these days.

Certainly, the FP mentioned above isn't alone among our readers in treading the “unwelcome” mat from their healthcare communities. Do you—do other family physicians—concur with his observations? Is this an exception among FPs, or do all primary-care providers feel this way? Is relocating to another country the best viable option for the FP?

And finally, in the next 50-100 years, is the FP going to be a lot like those town doctors one sees in Western reruns—a dinosaur of a bygone era?

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