Hitting a Nerve

Small-practice neurologists still have a role to play


Another solo-practice neurologist and I were talking last week. He’s understandably worried about the local hospital starting construction on a new “neuroscience center” down the street from us. They have ambitious plans for it, which apparently don’t include those of us who’ve served the community for 20-30 years.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

Whatever. I’ve been in a large practice before, and don’t want to be a part of one again.

His concern, which I have, too, is that the hospital center will drive us little guys out of business. This seems to be a common medical practice model these days.

I hope not. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and am happy with my little world. I also believe, perhaps naively, that there’s still a place for a small practice.

My staff and I know my patients. We’re generally tuned in to who needs what, or how much time. We return all calls within a few hours (or less) and try be on top of getting medication refills and records requests done the same day they come in.

While a large practice has some advantages, based on my time with one I’d have to say we didn’t do those things as well there. Messages often weren’t relayed, or were sent to the wrong doctor. Here there’s only me.

I may not make as much, but my appointment times and intervals aren’t dictated by an accountant. This allows me to generally spend as much time as needed with each person and not feel rushed as the day goes on. I hope patients still desire that in a physician, as opposed to a place advertising “20 neurologists, no waiting!” on a sign that would fit in on the Vegas strip.

Obviously, I can’t control what the hospital will do. I can only manage my own little world. I’ll continue doing that as best I can, as long as I’m able.

Time spent worrying about things I can’t change isn’t productive and is bad for one’s blood pressure. So I’ll focus on what I can do, and try not to worry about the rest.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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