Modernizing Primary Care Through Personalized Medicine

Modernizing Primary Care Through Personalized Medicine

Our world has changed rapidly over the past few decades with the development of personal computers, cell phones, and the Internet. Unfortunately our primary care system hasn’t kept pace with these changes.

Inefficient Primary Care

Doctors today are tied to antiquated and inefficient methods of practicing primary care because of the restrictions placed on them by Medicare and insurance companies. Medicare has a list of approximately 7,500 tasks that it pays physicians to perform, unfortunately speaking with a patient via telephone or email is one of the tasks not included on this list.

Physicians are restricted with regards to what they can and can’t charge their patients for. This means patients often have to schedule an appointment with their physician for minor health problems or questions that could have been solved by a quick phone call, email, or video consultation. These visits reduce the time the doctor has available to treat patients with more complicated symptoms and conditions, leading to a cycle of inefficient primary care.

Defensive Medicine Costs Up To $100 Billion A Year

Speaking about his experiences working within the U.S healthcare system, Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, a cardiologist and the creator and director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, discusses how in private practice seeing patients alone is not financially rewarding. Dr. Jauhar gives the example of, “Spending 20-30 minutes with a patient might be reimbursed $80, $90, but sending the patient for a nuclear stress test was much more profitable.” Doctors are becoming increasingly discontented with their profession, often practicing a type of “defensive medicine.” Because of the limited time they have with each patient, primary care physicians will often order a myriad of tests to try to determine what is making their patient sick. This type of care is hugely wasteful. It’s estimated that defensive medicine practices costs up to $100 billion a year out of the roughly $3 trillion we spend on healthcare. Money that would be better spent on preventive healthcare.

Our healthcare system is tailored to treating serious medical conditions after they’ve developed. The concept of proactive, personalized medicine is often ignored. Our behavior and lifestyle influence our health hugely, yet our healthcare system spends approximately 80% of its resources caring for patients that are seriously ill. Investing more in preventive care programs, programs that can help people to improve unhealthy habits and to diagnose chronic disease early on, will significantly improve our nation’s health.

The Benefits Of Personalized Care Programs

Personalized care programs such as those offered by SignatureMD may improve patients’ health. A recent study into the benefits of personalized preventive care, identified significant reductions in hospitalization rates among members. Physicians offering this type of care have the time to work closely with their patients to develop wellness programs focusing on the prevention of serious diseases and conditions. Personalized care programs have the ability to modernize our primary care system, changing it from a system focused on reactive medicine, to a system working towards prevention.