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Medicine’s Future, Here Already

Jan 4, 2016 | Editorial

What will be medicine’s future? The general trend these days is for medical and surgical advances, tempered with increasing oversight and bureaucracy. This translates into increased complexity for those of us providing your care, and increased complexity for patients to navigate various healthcare systems, which all may lead to an increased danger that things can go wrong for patients. What should you as the patient do to protect yourself? Your best option is to seek advice from those you trust, those who understand medicine and the medical system.

On the brighter side, each day brings medical advances. Here again, seek advice before signing up for procedures. Some advances are safe and some are not. For a given procedure or treatment, not all hospitals are really capable. Layers of complexity preclude patients from knowing where to go or which specialist to see. Don’t go it alone. It isn’t that people will knowingly try to trick you. In many cases, patients receive the wrong/bad care from well-meaning, but inadequately trained providers.

Also beware the interest of your referring doctor or hospital. In many cases, practices owned by hospitals must refer within their institution, even when better options exist right next door. Did you know that Duke owns over 85% of the healthcare in Durham? That may be fine, but be sure you see the right doctor.

In my practice at Priority Medicine I hold a number of key advantages that benefit you.   First, my training and experience are broad, and I am devoted to caring for my patients. This means I am able to manage most problems without referring you out. That said, I know my limitations and when appropriate, I will refer my patients for the best possible care. Since I own my practice, I am free to refer to the best doctors, in whichever institution. I only refer patients to places I myself would go. Next, because I have limited my practice and I know my patients, I can individualize your care to fit you. These factors translate to your increased safety.

Unfortunately, insurers direct much of your medical care through their payment strategies. In search of profit, insurers reduce payments, increase prior authorizations, and limit pharmacy formularies, thus trying to decide for all of us what to do next. Doctors, with skyrocketing overhead and regulatory requirements, along with payments that don’t keep pace with expenses have been forced to see more patients faster, or have had to hire less expensive providers (physician assistants and nurse practitioners) to do the work for those fixed fees. All of this is to say that now more than ever, you need a doctor you can trust to look out for you in today’s world. I am more than happy to look out for you. Through your patronage of Priority medicine, I thankfully have the time and resources to help you. I sleep well at night knowing I can do the right things for my patients.

Medicare and other insurers have enacted a number of payment cuts to doctors not using electronic health records, and to doctors not providing patient data to the government. I have not gone along with electronic medical records simply because there is no benefit to my patients, while driving up overhead. Unfortunately, Medicare has already begun to cut my payments.

In conclusion, seek help from those you trust the most. Beware of “helpful” advice/care from providers who are employed by others or have limited experience. Limit your risk and seek our help. I guarantee we will do our best.

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Priority Medicine
John. T. Kihm, M.D., F.A.C.P.

3811 N. Roxboro Road – Suite B
Durham, NC 27704


Tel (919) 471-3351
Fax (919) 471-3313

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