I first started practicing medicine in 1969 as a family practitioner. I became one of those rare people who by chance had a mentor who was the chief of pathology, urology and general surgery for most of his life at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Arthur Lundholm was at my side and taught me tirelessly in all of those specialties for five years. I guess you could call it the greatest multispecialty residency available. He also taught me how important it was to know your patient.
In the early years of my practice it was rare if my partners could not say “Hi” to a person in the waiting room by their first name and ask about other members of the family. This was true of most other family practitioners I knew. It is immensely helpful in caring for patients; you know their history and what medications they are on. It is much harder to care for a stranger.
Have you ever wondered when you go to a clinic why you may end up with a different physician each time you go? Often a large multispecialty clinic does not really care who you see. One reason is that a physician who sees his same patient population all the time and befriends them, is also more likely to take that group of patients with him if he leaves pthat clinic.
When HMOs, PPO’ and large corporations inched their way into the practice of medicine, seeing patients became the numbers game for them. The more patients a physician working for them sees, the more money they will make. Suddenly doctors had quotas. This means a family coming in to see you who lost their child yesterday is given about the same amount of time as someone with poison ivy.
This manner of rules and regulations by corporate America does not fit the picture of the kindly old family practitioner. Can this be changed? Maybe with time, but I doubt it. There is simply too much money to be made in medicine. The United States spends more on health care per capita than any other industrialized country in the world. We also are also one of the highest in the world on what percentage of our GDP goes to healthcare.
Dr. Rick R. Redalen’s medical career has spanned over forty years in just about all areas of medicine, including family practice, general surgery, obstetrics and emergency medicine. He has spent time teaching surgery in the Department of Family Practice at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Redalen recently formed Quest Global Benefits in response to the failures of the medical system in America. Frustrated by the high cost and poor delivery of medicine, Dr. Redalen has forged a better way for business owners and their valued employees to get the health care benefits they need and deserve with the creation of Quest Global Benefits. Dr. Redalen, founder and formerly CEO and CMO of ExitCare, was instrumental in guiding and mapping out a successful strategy allowing ExitCare to become the premier, best of brand company in the U.S. producing patient education.