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Health care is not the same these days

2014-03-30T00:00:00Z 2014-03-31T09:32:04Z Health care is not the same these days The Billings Gazette
March 30, 2014 12:00 am

I enjoyed the poignant feature on the life and career of “Rick” Stevens, MD. If anything, he is held in even higher esteem by his hundreds of physician colleagues than by his thousands of patients and their parents. Kudos to Stevens.

The article was also timely by juxtaposition to Jan Falstad's article on consolidation in the business of health care. Before the 21st century, the relationship between patient and physician was relatively seamless. Our professional duty was to the patient. Now, most physicians are employees and their first duty is more often to the employer. Ideally those allegiances should be aligned. In practice they sometimes are not.

For me, there was also an irony in Larry Mayer's photo of Stevens hunched over his laptop with mother and daughter sitting at a distance. Formerly patient visits were spent with unbroken eye-to-eye contact while establishing a therapeutic relationship. Now, most of each visit is spent nursing the electronic medical record for the benefit of the employer, the insurance carrier, the government bureaucracy and the army of administrators, clerks, accountants, and attorneys who add to the ruinous expense of modern "health care."

However, there is no point in nostalgia for the past. Things have changed and there is no going back. God help us.

Roger Williams, MD

Billings

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