Slow Medicine is not a new concept in the health space. At its core, this movement seeks to prioritise whole-person care. I treat the patient, not the disease. Lots of old school family doctors worked this way too – think of the doctor when you were a kid who used to visit your house routinely when you were sick, no questions asked. Not anymore. There has been a movement away from this practice in favour of efficiency and meeting KPIs with the corporatisation of medicine. This doesn’t work for me or my style of practice – if you’re looking for a “just a script” doctor – I’m not your girl.
Slow Medicine is not about your doctor “being slow” – it is about taking time to consider the patient, and being careful not to over diagnose or over treat. It is about nourishing the doctor patient relationship with time and understanding.
At the crux of Slow Medicine (at least for me) is the aim to provide deliberate, unrushed whole-person care. I don’t focus in on that one single symptom that brought my patient to book in with me. I focus on the big picture. The ‘why’, and then the ‘what else’ and the ‘how’ I can help – often a mix of counselling, medication, interventions, advice. And of course, listening.
With the dangerous freezing of Medicare rebates, many bulk-billing practitioners have taken to upping their consult speeds and strength in numbers just to get by. In my opinion this is a real shame, and has detracted from the quality of general practice and has dampened the public expectation of what a GP can do.
Slow Medicine is a movement that prioritises quality over quantity. The upsides include more time with your doctor, more care, more understanding, and a more meaningful patient-doctor relationship.
What this means, however, is that this will come at a higher cost to patients. Slow medicine is not viable without charging a significant gap fee.
If you believe (like I do) that we need to return to longer, high quality consultations, find a doctor who practices in this way. For greater systemic change, and to make this way of practice affordable for all, write to your federal MP or the health minister to re-examine the Medicare system to prioritise making longer consultations viable.