What’s In A Name?

One of our organization’s three major goals is to make KSB Hospital the best place for physicians to practice medicine. I invited Tim Broos to share some thoughts on recent changes to the way we refer to certain physicians.  In the past, details like these have often fallen by the wayside.  I’m glad Tim could help shed some light on the process.
Tim Broos (Chief Information Officer)
In the world of computer systems, there are a number of different ways of identifying physicians and providers at various times in the care of the patient. We all know about specialists, such as Orthopedic Surgeons, Ophthalmologists, and Podiatrists, as well as Internal Medicine and Family Medicine Physicians, but the real challenge is in labeling a physician or provider while taking care of patients in the hospital. We have wrestled with terms like Attending, Admitting, Primary, Referred To, Referred From, Supervising, Resident, & Delivering . . . all attempting to name a particular individual associated with a patient.

One of the terms that we are considering changing is the designation of a physician or provider as that patient’s Family Physician. In my case, being a 54 year old man with a wife and a son who lives with his mother, both of which use different physicians than I do, it hardly seems appropriate to refer to Dr. Iyer (my doctor) as my Family Physician. I mean, what family is that really referring to . . . my original family where my parents live in Crystal Lake and my brother lives in Gurnee . . . or my current “family” that I described above. And my group of fellow employees is often referred to as my KSB “family”, but that certainly doesn’t have anything to do with my personal relationship with Dr. Iyer. The only other connection with family is that I do enjoy watching Family Guy, but I have never referred to Dr. Iyer as my Family Guy . . . that would be quite weird.

This all has brought us to the conclusions that have emerged in the EMR world related to the labeling of the physician that could be described as the Doctor That the Patient Goes To When He/She Has an Illness For Which He/She is Not Directly Self Referring to a Specialist. While that is a very good way to describe that individual, it is a bit bulky for a computer screen and a label at the top of a report. So, with the realization that Family Physician is really not the best description, we have been contemplating changing the label to Primary Care Provider, which can be nicely shortened to PCP.

So, there you have it, a change to a more logical term, but from one that has been entrenched in our minds for many years. Let me know what you think of the change, as we may start to incorporate it slowly throughout the various systems.

  • Linda Mickelson
    Posted at 18:54h, 10 August Reply

    First, I have to say that I like the concept of having a 'blog' type of discussion page for staff to contribute their ideas, etc..
    Second, I agree that there are too many titles given that make it confusing for any of us, and I often need to ask for help to determine what attending means vs. referring vs. family physician. I like the new term of PCP and vote yes!

    Linda M

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 14:37h, 18 August Reply

    I still have the same physician that I had as a child, who is also the physician of my parents. Although, I have not seen my "family physician in roughly 8 years, so I am not sure if he is really my "family physician" any longer. My children have a different physician than I and their father has a different physician than any of us. I vote "yes" to changing to PCP.

    Many outside reports from other healthcare facilities use "PCP" vs family physician. Good topic.

    -Sarah Lutyens (posted as "Anonymous" because I do not have an account with the options listed)

  • Alicia Carlson
    Posted at 20:59h, 15 September Reply

    I think this would be a great change. Short, easy, and too the point, most people will know exactly what "PCP" stands for. I believe it may cut down on some of the confusion. Also, Tim Broos watches Family Guy? Excellent.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 23:10h, 10 January Reply

    With the aging Baby Boomer group, I think PCP may have an entirely different meaning.
    But seriously, Primary Care Provider may be a utilitarian term but it seems very sterile and lacks warmth. It may be apropos to the current state of the physician-patient relationship but maybe, just maybe, by changing our terminology, we can begin to change patient care for the better.

    Suppose we chose a term like Patient Advocate Physician or Patient Advocate Doctor(it makes for a better acronym). This would be the one physician the patient could rely on to help them make sense of what the other "specialist" physicians are telling them. For example, if a patient has colon cancer, he may be seeing a colo-rectal surgeon, an oncologist, a radiologist, and a cardiologist. Having one physician the patient could consult with who could be an expert advocate to help them make sense of the disparate information they may be getting from these different specialists would be extremely helpful.

    The one positive word in PCP is care but, unfortunately, it does not represent the reality of the doctor-patient relationship of today. What we have today is PTP or Patient Treatment Provider. Maybe, by choosing our labels more carefully, we can lead the way to actual better care.

  • Risha
    Posted at 04:01h, 28 May Reply

    PCP is a long overdue title for physician type. But are you referring to office PCP or hospital attending? I like the recent change I have seen where the resident(supervising/PCP) physicians admitting a patient are listed together on the census on the weekend, but Mondays get confusing when the PCP can't find them on their list… we need resident to be a field separate from PCP… since they ALWAYS need supervision while acting as residents.

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