Primary Care Providers
Christopher Scuderi, DO Medical Director, UF New Berlin Family Medicine Center
The American Academy of Family Physicians defines the primary care physician as a generalist physician who provides definitive care to the undifferentiated patient at the point of first contact and takes continuing responsibility for providing the patient’s care.
In the print issue of Florida Doctor – North, some of Jacksonville’s most dedicated practitioners talk about their lives and their careers. Online this month, each doctor dials in on the current challenges primary care physicians face and where they see the field in the future. Here’s what Dr. Scuderi has to say:
Primary Care Challenges: The time crunch is the hardest thing. To be profitable, you have to see so many patients. In our office, we make sure all the information is right in the room during the appointment– lab results, consultations, everything. We schedule follow-ups that might take more time at the end of the day or before lunch in case we run over. When we are running late, we explain, apologize and offer patients a glass of water and a magazine. It also helps to have a great, efficient staff.
Where Do You See the Field In 10 Years? We’re going through a major transition time. There will be more reliance on electronic health records and team-based care, and we’ll be using email and telemedicine. Others will rely on us to be flexible and to provide solutions. With an anticipated shortage of 90,000 physicians by 2040, we have to make sure that primary care is an attractive option for young doctors coming out of training.
Erich Schramm, MD Family physician at Baptist Primary Care in Ponte Vedra
Biggest Challenges as a PCP: I do a good bit of chronic medical management, so I see a lot of elderly patients. There’s such a psychosocial context in medicine. You really have to tailor your practice to be able to communicate with each individual patient. Coordinating patient care and using specialists in an effective manner is also important. One of the biggest challenges in any physician’s office is time. At the end of the day we want to focus our time with the patient.
Where Do You See the Field in 10 Years? I would hope the integration of electronic medical records would make primary care more efficient. Right now, it’s hard to communicate when patients change doctors, which leads to duplication of testing and medication errors. I’m sure in 10 years there will be a standard information system that will make the process more efficient.
Jennifer Stone, MD Family Medicine Physician at St. Vincent’s Primary Care – Fleming Island
Biggest Challenges as a PCP: There’s an art to finding out what’s important and dealing with issues quickly without making the patient feel rushed. When I came here, I followed a doctor who had a real gift for that, and I think I really learned from him. Economics are another big challenge. Everything really boils down to that. Some of my decisions are affected by what the patient can afford and what insurance is willing to pay for. I’m not always the one who gets to dictate the care.
Predicting the Future of Primary Care: Primary care is emerging. We will be a very important part of healthcare reform. I suspect we’ll be seeing more patients in less time and will probably have to utilize more of a team approach. There will be significant changes and probably some roadblocks, but the one thing that won’t change is the relationship PCPs have with their patients. To be able to help them and educate them will always be a worthwhile cause.