Primary Care Near Collapse In US

The above statement sums up the headlines of a Reuters article by Maggie Fox appearing January 30, 2006. The article is based on a statement by the American College of Physicians (ACP) who warn that, “Primary care is on the verge of collapse.” In a statement by that organization they continue, “Very few young physicians are going into primary care and those already in practice are under such stress that they are looking for an exit strategy.”

Dr. Bob Doherty, senior vice president for the American College of Physicians wants more focus on health instead of what they call, “just-in-time” care. He highlighted the problems with an example, “Medicare will pay tens of thousands of dollars…for a limb amputation on a diabetic patient, but virtually nothing to the primary care physician for keeping the patient’s diabetes under control.”

Income also plays a part in the decline of Primary Care physicians. The ACP statement noted that, “Primary care physicians — the bedrock of medical care for today and the future — are at the bottom of the list of all medical specialties in median income compensation.”

The ACP is calling for a number of reforms. One of those reforms includes using e-mail to consult on minor and routine matters. This would free up more expensive office visit time for when it is needed. The group is then suggesting that doctors be compensated for any e-mail consultations.

Many believe that the chiropractic profession has offered an avenue of wellness care long sought after in medical primary care. In response to these articles International Chiropractors Association Executive Director Ronald M. Hendrickson stated, “The massive decline in the availability of primary care medical physicians will force the system, and encourage the consumer, to look at other approaches to health and other care pathways.” The ICA Executive continues, “The chiropractic profession offers a powerful, proven and highly cost-effective resource, since doctors of chiropractic are well-trained and exceptionally well equipped to provide drugless, non-surgical care that can contribute significantly to the prevention, early intervention and the natural resolution of the health care needs of millions.”