Over the last three decades of practice we have observed and been part of many changes in medicine and the medical system. It continues to be deeply satisfying to care for patients and be an important part of their lives. We will continue to serve the local and larger community for many more years.
Today we have technologies that could not have been imagined in 1978 when we started practice. Daily we use monoclonal antibodies specific for individual cancers. In our office pharmacy we have drugs tailored to treat critical cell processes and prevent cancers from growing. Chemotherapy is gentler today, with better drugs to prevent or treat side effects.
Information and information access has grown also. We are proud to be one of the first private medical offices to adopt an electronic medical record. Though the transition from paper to the new system was difficult initially the advantages are now so obvious that any pain has been forgotten. We now electronically receive laboratory tests, refill prescriptions, and most importantly communicate with your other doctors immediately. Before you leave our office the information from your visit has already been sent your other doctors’ offices.
The electronic record also allows us to access your information even when we are not in our office (weekends, etc.). If you are traveling and become ill, we can provide the treating doctor critical information about your prior health (lab tests, treatments) so there is no gap in your care. We can also provide you a record of your visit so you may keep your own medical records.
Not all the coming changes in the medical system can be predicted. Certainly there will be more attention to providing the most efficient treatments at lower costs. There will be more emphasis on preventive medicine. I do not fear these changes because they are necessary and, from my perspective, long overdue. I have always believed and practiced this way.
What has not changed at all is the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. Technology may be necessary for curing, but is not sufficient for healing the person. We have always practiced patient-centered medicine. Our goal is to connect the best scientific medicine with the most compassionate caring and live up to the standards expressed in our logo: wisdom, compassion and service.
We are now able to share our Cancer Survivor Program with patients who receive acute cancer treatment from other doctors. We provide consultations to develop Survivor Plans for patients who are looking forward to “life after treatment.” Please see the section Cancer Survivor Program for more information. With current technology we can also provide consultation for patients who cannot come to our office.
Modern cancer care is a team effort. The partnership of a physician and psychologist—Drs. Bill and Susie Buchholz—is the core of that team effort. More skills are needed and so we have developed an Integrative Oncology Network to assist in providing the breadth of services necessary. This is a group of professionals with different specialties to whom we refer patients if they need their services. The network concept is maintained as we remain in communication with each other to coordinate care. Please see the section Integrative Oncology Network for details.
We also work closely with the rest of the medical community. As one of the oncologists who admits patients to El Camino, I am working to establish an Oncology Service in the new hospital. All of the physicians who use El Camino are part of this effort and all of our patients will benefit. One aspect of this team approach to cancer care are tumor boards. Every Wednesday I meet with other doctors—oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, etc.—and we discuss individual cases to establish the best treatment plans. This service is free and I often present cases to get a “second opinion” or advice from the assembled physicians.
El Camino Hospital has established its own cancer center. I work closely with them and their physicians. We frequently speak at their support groups. Our office is partnering with them to provide cancer survivor consultations. This will help their patients get the same in-depth survival care you receive in our office. See the section Cancer Survivor Program for details.
In previous years we have offered workshops to the community including Integrating Care and Creative Healing in October, 2008. A copy of the workbook we wrote for those events is available in our Publications section. Please check our website periodically for our speaking schedule.
I have continued to write articles which are now included in the READING LIST in the Cancer Survivor Program section. This is a menu of articles relevant to everyone, especially those who have completed or are about to complete treatment and are looking forward to a future beyond cancer.
In closing, I offer the following “To Do” list
- Meditate daily: Breath in, breath out. Repeat.
- Enjoy the sacred ordinary.
- Say thank you to 10 plants, objects or persons daily.
- That’s enough for one day. Take the rest of it off.
William M. Buchholz, M.D.