As the Editor-in-Chief of MedTech Boston and because I’m leading a boot-strapped start-up company, I talk to a number of entrepreneurs, Angels, and venture capitalists every week. One VC was confused about Medstro, and instead replied, “You know what you should build—a website for me to know what specialist to go to. For example, there’s no good place on the internet to know if a gastroenterologist to do my screening colonoscopy is right for me.” I replied, “That’s called your primary care doctor.”
Maybe someone will prove me wrong, but I will be impressed if we ever build an algorithm to process all the factors a primary care provider goes through in their head in matching a patient to the right referral—from this patient does better with a young female who goes over the top with explaining options to this patient will never tolerate the long wait and curt front desk staff to I’m worried about this clinical situation and I just want a colonoscopy done ASAP. Just like eHarmony still can’t predict who will be the best life partner for you, the internet, technology, and MIT will never be able to replace your primary care doctor.
Dr. Andrew Morris-Singer, President and Founder of Primary Care Progress, says it best—“One of the biggest challenges for primary care in this nation is we haven’t collectively realized how much more valuable we [primary care providers] are to society right now, in the context of unprecedented healthcare spending, relatively low quality of care, and massive increases in people seeking regular sources of care. Society needs robust primary care, a lot more of it, and it needs it STAT!”
So I’m excited to announce that the The American Resident Project, Medstro, and The Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care have come together to host “Medicine on the Front Lines: Empowering the Next Generation of Primary Care Providers.” This will be a live event held on September 16, 2014 on the campus of The Harvard Medical School that brings together providers, students, stakeholders, and community members. Everyone is welcome to partake, listen, ask questions, give advice, and engage!
The highlight of the event will include an expert panel discussion on how primary care is evolving, highlighting what can be achieved through a robust primary care practice, and discuss tools that providers have at their fingertips to successfully navigate new methods of delivery. Additionally, the top 5 finalists from our online Primary Care Innovation Challenge (#PCC14) will pitch their winning ideas, and a grand prize winner will be chosen!
Expert panelists will include: Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh, Resident Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Dr. Andrew Morris-Singer President and Founder of Primary Care Progress; Janice John, Chief Primary Care Physician Assistant at Cambridge Health Alliance; young physicians from The American College of Physicians; and a physician from Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care.
The panel will be moderated by Dr. Eric Weil, Associate Chief for Clinical Affairs of the General Medicine Unit of Massachusetts General Hospital.
On talking with Dr. Weil in preparation for the event, he told me that he’s been practicing primary care since 1991 (I was in 6th grade then), and he’s seen it change. He says that he used to write all his own notes, schedule his own patients, and write prescriptions on paper prescription pads. Now, he doesn’t think he’s seen paper in a primary care office in the last decade (Ok, Dr. Weil, maybe that’s a bit exaggerated–I know my Georgetown Residency Clinic (5 years ago) had paper charts that I had to beg for from medical records). But the point is, care is not entirely on physicians now, and we’re moving towards delivering care as a team.
In 2006, Dr. Weil and team at Revere Health Center rolled out Practice Based Care Management, where they provide a full suite of services for the more complex patients. This suite consists of nurse care managers, case managers, social workers, pharmacists, and community resource managers. Dr. Weil says this “improved clinical outcomes, saved money, and patients loved it. It was transformative!”
How do we take innovation like what Dr. Weil’s clinic is doing and share it across America? Dr. Andrew Morris-Singer has provided one solution in Primary Care Progress, a grass roots organization, with chapters and events across the country. Dr. Morris-Singer tells us that Primary Care Progress is not limited to any one way of practicing primary care. Instead, Primary Care Progress showcases what primary care could be and creates a space for teaching advocates and coaching them to build teams and accelerate local change in primary care delivery and training. It seeks to inspire by engaging all members of the primary care team to unleash our full power and asking trainees and students to take on a significant leadership role in the movement.
There is a lot of unrest and change in the American healthcare system. Dr. Weil says that he thinks “older veterans would grumble and say, ‘This isn’t what I expected.’” He says he would counter with, “This may even be a better time in medicine because you now have so many tools to treat the whole patient, to feel really good about the care you deliver, and to create your ideal system.” Dr. Morris-Singer is equally excited, saying that “the future of primary care has arrived. On a daily basis, I’m getting to see, hear about and talk with folks on the cutting edge of innovations that are improving care delivery, provider training, and patient engagement.”
So if you are in any way passionate about primary care innovation, please join us for a magical evening on September 16! You are not alone.
My passion is healthcare optimization, whether that is with innovation, making scientific discoveries, or improving delivery. I love bringing people and ideas together and making projects work. With this, medicine exists to improve lives, and I will strive to always help patients and those around me.
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