Direct practice health care: The solution to nationalized medicine?


In a recent article, The New York Times explored "direct practice," an emerging trend in which health care providers focus on preventative care and personal relationships with patients. In addition to improving the quality of health care, this practice may provide a solution to many of the problems faced by President Obama's health care reform package.

One key aspect of the President's plan has been a $2 billion earmark that he set aside for the development of community health centers. On the one hand, this is outstanding: the community health center program offers medical care to millions who might otherwise not be able to afford it. However, in many ways, it suffers from some of the same fundamental problems as the mainstream health-care system. Big clinics promote factory-style healthcare for maximum profitability; by requiring that doctors see a large number of patients -- sometimes one every 15 minutes -- these companies ensure a steady stream of billable hours. Similarly, with their emphasis on providing standard care to the largest possible number of patients, community health centers make the most of their meager resources. In both cases, the focus is on quantity rather than quality.