Trail runners are a friendly bunch. Being crazy enough to wake up before dawn on Sunday to run eleven miles over hilly, root-ridden trails creates a special bond.
On this morning’s run, I met a college freshman who wants to be a primary care doctor. He told me we could reduce the cost of health care by treating patients via email and the internet. While some patients need to be seen regularly and some conditions diagnosed in person, other patients can be treated via email with an annual face-to-face visit. I was proud to tell him that I email my patients regularly and send prescriptions electronically via a secure patient portal.
This college student’s perceptive statement impressed me. I realized I have become so enmeshed in health care that I have forgotten how closely folks outside our professional family follow these issues. To a generation that has grown up with email, text messaging, and social media, the question isn’t why should we communicate electronically, but why shouldn’t we.
I spent the next twenty minutes selling him on family medicine. I told him about the variety of patients you see and how you can use state of the art technology to communicate with and treat patients. I can look up the current treatment of malaria in a young adult who recently returned from a family funeral in west Africa, then send an email to make sure the treatment worked.
Today’s college students may not choose family medicine for the same reasons I did, but I want them to see that they can use cutting edge information technology to communicate with their patients, treat a wide variety of medical conditions , and focus on different areas of interest as their careers and views evolve. We have to show the next generation how fun and satisfying family medicine can be.