When you ask anyone about their doctor you get a surprising array of answers. You do not get the now obsolete reply: “My doctor is Dr. Abernathy.”, or “Our family physician has always been Dr. Smith.”
In today’s environment the responses are much more likely to be: “My doctor is “Health Corporation Xylast” or our doctor is the Smithfield Medical Clinic. Common also is the response: “My doctor is Kaiser or Mayo” or some other medical clinic, medical foundation or group. While some of these entities are “not for profit” almost all of them pay their executives far more than their employed physicians whose identity has been lost.
Physicians like most tools are considered replaceable. The decision to employ a physician is no longer in the hands of colleagues but is left to the corporate executive types who hire physicians who will work for less. A surgeon is qualified if he has the proper certification on paper, his performance is expected to be exactly the same as the last surgeon regardless of experience or performance. It may take a year of bad results before it is noticed that his or her performance has produced statistical results that are below expected performance standards.
Patients sent to the hospital by their primary care physician are treated by the “hospitalist” who really needs no name since he or she will only take care of the patient on a rotation basis. Jones on Monday, Smith on Tuesday and so forth.
Physician identity in today’s environment is gone and forgotten by most people except for a few of us septo- and octogenarians who remember the “Old Days” when we had real names and identity, and were considered to be vital and valuable community members.
Has the price of regular hours and regular pay been worth what we have had to give up?