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The Indianapolis Medical Society was established in 1848 at a critical period in the evolution of the growing field of medicine to define the true practice of medicine, to share standards of care and public health data, and to advocate for physicians and the safety of patients’ health. In creating the IMS, forward-thinking physicians provided a forum for members to voice their concerns, express new ideas and garner support for initiatives to better serve patients and physicians in the community. Fast forward to 2017, the specifics have changed, but the fundamentals have not. The IMS has proven itself as a way for individual physician members to discuss concerns and rally support for causes and initiatives that matter.
There is no doubt that at the national level the medical community is facing difficult times, and these challenges affect us locally. Some may argue that the national healthcare crisis is too complex, too far-reaching to be addressed effectively here at home. I prefer to think that, with members actively participating in the IMS, we have the power to make a difference.
We need to focus discussions regarding the healthcare crisis to remind everyone of the key principles of medical practice. For me, at the top of the list is the doctor-patient relationship. I am concerned about the growing disconnect between us doctors and our patients. It has come to the point where patients just don’t know us anymore. I hear from many people how important their relationship with their doctor was to them in the past and how they miss that level of personalized care. Patients describe the rewarding experience of going to the doctor with their concerns. Because of familiarity and being personally invested, the doctor carefully listened, used the healing power of touch, described the diagnosis and treatment plan, then promised to walk alongside until all was well. Even if the story teller says the outcome was not as desired, the doctor remains an important source of comfort. No one ever talks about how their insurance plan gives them comfort. And yet the conversation about health care, both in the public sector and in our larger medical societies, is dominated by the topic of insurance coverage.
A close, sustained relationship is what physicians and patients identify as the best part of medicine. There is great value in taking a closer look at what this means and advocating for developing a modern version that provides the mutual benefit of a trusting relationship.
One way to do this is to begin collecting our stories about our patients, sharing and highlighting our successes and challenges. In the coming months, watch our website for an opportunity to submit your favorite story about your relationships with patients. Please feel free to contact me directly, I would love to talk with you about one of my favorite things – taking care of patients.