Is It Time to Get a New Doctor?
The Amazing Difference
Peter is 46 years old. He’s fit, rarely ever gets sick, and comes from good genes (meaning both his parents are still alive and healthy with no apparent family history of any significant illness). Twice in the last ten years Peter has gone to urgent care thinking he might have strep throat. Both times the test was negative and after a few days, the sore throat and fever resolved itself.
For the past few years, Peter has been thinking it’s time to “get a doctor.” He’s read about the shortage of primary care physicians (PCPs) in the U.S. which has made him think having a primary care physician must be important. And he realizes he’s getting a little older and it might be time. But since there’s been no rush, he’s not acted. Every once in a while he’ll ask a friend if they like their doctor, hoping for a recommendation. Generally, Peter says, he gets a lot of “ehh, they’re fine,” which is not exactly a raving review. The few times someone has given that strong recommendation, Peter has called only to be told the doctor is not accepting new patients.
About six months ago, Peter started having some odd feeling in his hands and feet. It comes and goes, and isn’t all that severe. At first he ignored it, but now he thinks it’s time to act. Since it’s been going on for many months, Peter figures it’s not something he needs to go to the emergency room for, or even urgent care. He’d like to go to a neurologist. He’s called eleven so far—none would schedule an appointment without a referral from another doctor. Now what, Peter thought to himself. He doesn’t have a regular doctor (a PCP), and most are scheduling first visits many months out. Neurologists are also scheduling first appointments many months out. Frustrated, Peter lets the problem persist.
Then, Peter was invited to an Amaze class being put on by his company. In the class, Peter learned about the many resources available to him through Amaze. When the class broke, Peter didn’t even wait until the next day. He immediately called and spoke to one of Amaze’s doctors, a family medicine specialist. There’s no charge, of course, it’s part of the service Peter’s company pays for. The doctor Peter spoke to provided the referral he needed. The next day, an Amaze health advisor called Peter to let him know the details of the two highly regarded neurologists she’d identified, both of whom would schedule an appointment the following week.
The moral of the story is that until you need to access America’s healthcare system yourself, it’s hard to fathom how difficult it’s become to navigate the system and access the care you need.