Is one of the victims of our health care crisis the traditional family doctor? There's evidence of more hospitals trying to buy out family practices. Other doctors offices are merging.
Dr. Lorne Stitsky decided to do something about it. He left the assembly-line atmosphere of a conventional family practice, and opened an office in Jupiter.
"We were having to see more patients, spend less time with patients," Dr. Stitsky explained about working at his old office. "It becomes a numbers game. How many patients a day can you see, to stay open?"
At his new solo practice in Jupiter, Stitsky uses an old-fashioned, back-to-basics, approach-- spending more time with each patient, practicing prevention, reducing hospital time.
"Here I am, enjoying medicine again," said Dr. Stitsky. "I barely have any patients in the hospital. Why? Because I spend time with my patients. I get to know them. I know when they're sick early."
But to practice medicine like this, Stitsky had to limit the number of patients he takes, and charge a yearly membership fee. Still, could his practice be a model for health care reform?
"The only way I can see it working," offered Stitsky, "is if you say to the family doctor, the pediatrician, or the internist, 'Listen we know you guys have always been on the low end of everything. But we're going to start making you our priority.'"