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For physicians and patients, time is the best medicine

The Boston Globe, September 5, 2012

Mostly because of money. Under a fee-for-service system, seeing patients more quickly means more revenue. But not much of that extra money makes its way to physicians—especially primary care doctors; adjusted for inflation, physician incomes have actually gone down in the past 15 years. Instead, it goes toward a bloated, inefficient system that often does not make us healthier. With payments tightening from private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid, doctors are pressured to cram more and more patients into a day’s schedule to keep practices afloat. The result: You have a situation in which most primary care doctors I know feel like Lucy and Ethel working at that ever speedier candy-making conveyor belt.