LET’S START with good news. Americans are living longer.
Now, a challenge: Our population is growing and skewing older, which means more people and more health conditions to manage.
And now, another challenge: Our population growth is outpacing the growth of primary care physicians. More doctors choose to enter lucrative specialized fields—reflecting an industry that pays more for procedures than for prevention—and the number of specialists is increasing six times faster than that of primary care doctors, who comprise just 37 percent of physicians.
“You do the math,” says Dr. Marshall Silverman of Signature Healthcare in SouthPark. “That means that if you’re a patient and you want to spend more than five to ten minutes with your doctor, you don’t have that option because there are more of you and less of them, and you can’t add hours to the day for doctors to see more and more patients. The numbers don’t work.”
Yet a growing, aging population needs these numbers to work. Concepts like express care clinics and online appointments make care more efficient, even if they connect patients with nurses or doctors they’ve never seen before and never will again. Another concept in this increasingly complex field is one based in simplicity: concierge medicine.