Probably not.

In recent years, many physicians have given up their private practice personal offices to become highly paid employees of hospital systems. They still have private practices but their employment by hospital systems frees them from overhead and from billing and collection requirements.

Many retain a fee for service component to their compensation packages with the relevant hospital system. They also retain their ability to take insurance or to decline to do so.

Profitably ensconced at a hospital, physicians have various methods of patient contact. Some have assistants and nurse-practitioners dedicated to supporting them with telephone numbers where a human being answers. Many do not, relying instead on messages to central number where an attendant (or machine) “hears” the message and allegedly transmits it to the physician for whom it is intended.

All use the hospital systems’ online sites with catchy names like “follow my health” (Northwell) or “my chart” (NYU). These sites, accessible through passwords, have a “message” component enabling a patient to ask questions or make comments directed to a named physician. Monitored by anonymous somebodies, the patient post on the site is most often answered by somebody unknown to the patient within 24 to 72 hours.

Weekends are not included in the answering time. This system assumes that nothing medical happens on a weekend when the monitoring somebody is at home or on the beach.

The hospital site also posts test results on an as-received basis, visible by a patient before the doctor receives them. This practice received critical comment from an article in the New England Journal of Medicine with a sub-head quoting the patient comment, “what’s lymphoma?”

Unless a doctor permits the hospital to give out an email address, no email is available.

This miserable concoction of patient-avoidance techniques and practices means that patients are remitted to the corporate practice of medicine. The law in thirty states makes clear that only physicians may own professional corporations (PC) while a PC may contract with a medical services organization (MSO) for non-medical services. The hospital systems discussed here are a hybrid because they are providing non-medical services but they retain a medical component because they are hospitals.

This system can be avoided by people who can afford a “concierge” doctor who is immediately available through the payment of an annual fee that is in the thousands of dollars. But the “concierge” is unnecessary if you have already identified your specialists and if you have a primary care physician who can identify new ones.

The bottom line here is that no one should have a doctor whom they cannot reach on the telephone. Yet that is the fact with many patients who live with the distance that is the practical effect of hospital system-physician arrangements.

The inability to reach an essential professional is also seen in show business especially in the artist-agent relationship. Many actors, screenwriters or others can’t get through to their agents. If an agent can’t be reached, the artist needs another agent.

On the other hand, sometimes the agent’s zealous pursuit of work for clients with whom they rarely interact leads to bizarre results. In the old days, the William Morris Agency (now William Morris Endeavor) booked a dead man to play a Catskill resort. It was often said that when you are out of work with William Morris, you are out of work all over the world because of its vast number of offices.

Professional relationships need communication and interaction if they are to work.