This was a question that was asked of me by a generalist physician colleague at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored workshop that I am attending in Princeton, NJ.
The question is part of a theme of work being undertaken by leaders here, and also in my travels in the last several months now. What about primary care and how should it be supported?
So I thought about this overnight. I am a family practitioner. I went to medical school hoping to be a family practitioner. I left medical school hoping to be a family practitioner. My interest in being a family practitioner is to provide patient and family-centered care, and promote it in my profession and in all of health care, in order to reduce disparities. This is really what’s at the heart of all of my work in health information technology.
I would therefore pursue a different question, which is, “How do I feel about any medical school that doesn’t teach patient and family-centered care?” My answer would be similar to the question, “How do I feel about a health system that doesn’t involve patients and families in their care?”
A family practice department and a transparent health system go hand in hand with a patient centered approach. We should continue to support the thinking about patient-centered approach in every educational institution. A sign on a door doesn’t make that happen. It’s the icing on the cake.
It has been a delight to spend time with fellow alumni of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellowship programs this week. We are sharing a diversity of health issues and interests with each other. The thing that our interests have in common, in my opinion, is the desire to support a health system that respects patients, their families, and their communities. The experience has been very affirming of the Foundation’s commitment to health and health care.