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What Does Primary Care Look Like in 2020?

What Does Primary Care Look Like in 2020?

“Success […] is not about the episodic, momentary victories, though they do play a role. It is about the longer view of incremental steps that produce sustained progress.”

- Atul Gawande, The Heroism of Incremental Care

Redefining Primary Care

I had my annual checkup with my primary care physician last week. Because it’s 2020, my appointment was virtual and I saw my doctor on my iMac. She was wearing a white lab coat. I was wearing a t-shirt and baseball cap. No blood draws. No stethoscope. Not even a weigh in.


Why would anyone have an annual check-up over a screen? What's the point?


I’ve been seeing my doctor for 3 years. Usually just once a year in July ever since I turned 35 and decided, yeah… I’m a proper adult and I probably need a doctor.


And I like my doctor. I didn’t want Covid-19 to make me miss checking in this year, so I had a virtual checkup. My doctor and I talked for 20 minutes, and you’ll never guess what we covered...


The Black Lives Matter movement and institutional racism. The strength of spiritual foundations. How grateful I am for my wife and kids and my extended family. Processes and routines for managing stress. We talked about what it was like for her growing up in Brooklyn. How my business is weathering the economic uncertainty of 2020. We talked about fishing.


And you know what? She probably learned more about me in those 20 minutes than she ever has from drawing blood. And she’ll be able to treat me more effectively when I need to see her in person.


Done right, primary care is about treating the whole person. Flesh and blood and fears and dreams and aspirations. And even the sacred spark that doesn’t show up on measurable test results.


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