Dr. Catherine Cantway: Can health care be saved? I don’t know, but I’m going to try | SteamboatToday.com

Dr. Catherine Cantway: Can health care be saved? I don’t know, but I’m going to try

Health care in the United States is broken. In the 2020 elections, health care reform will be a big topic of debate. From my perspective as a physician, neither party has a sustainable solution. 

I went into primary care because I wanted to help people, as most of us in medicine do. I chose family medicine because I thought I would have the opportunity to spend time with my patients, get to know them, understand their health needs and guide them through the healthcare system. Sadly that ideology is nowhere close to its reality.

On average a primary care doctor spends seven minutes with a patient, then at least twice as much time sitting in front of a computer documenting what happened during those seven minutes. The reasons we have to spend so much time documenting are too numerous and complex to explain in this letter to the editor, but the result is doctors who don’t get to spend time with and help patients, then don’t have time at the end of the day to be with their family, go for a hike or just enjoy life outside of work. Not to mention are barely making enough money to pay back $300,000 in student loan debt. 

The base of our health care system is overworked, underpaid, and the passion these professionals once had for their career is gone, and many are leaving medicine. Does this sound like a career you would recommend? Many physicians are actually encouraging their kids to avoid the medical profession. 

So what’s the answer? Medicare for all? If everyone gets health insurance, but there aren’t enough primary care docs, who is going to care for the mass of newly insured patients? Do we leave health care to the private sector? Hardly anyone can afford a private insurance plan or medications, and why should these large companies be making a profit on our health?

It’s time to look outside the box for a solution. Luckily there is a grassroots movement led by primary care doctors who are taking health care into their own hands and creating a system that works for patients and providers: direct primary care. In this model of care, patients have improved access to their doctor and more time with their doctor. This leads to healthier and more satisfied patients, happy doctors and reduced healthcare costs.

Too good to be true? Look into it, you might be happily surprised at what you find.

Catherine Cantway, M.D.

Steamboat Springs

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