What I Want Family Medicine to Look Like in 2026

This blog post is a finalist in the STFM Blog Competition.

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Stephen Carek, MD

It is the year 2026, “Triple Aim Hits the Bullseye: Health Care System Rises in Access and Quality While Lowering Costs” flashes across the screen of a daily new show. In this moment of reflection, I take the time to remember where the American health care system was 10 years prior and view the current landscape of healthcare with optimism. It had been a long, arduous battle, but after years of reform, cooperation, and evolution, the United States health care mega-complex had undergone such tremendous reform that the world no longer viewed the US as a model of big spending and inefficiencies, but as a model of reform and innovation.

But why? What had become of the system fraud with inequities, corruption, overspending, and compromised patient care? It was no more, thanks to an established network of primary care physicians who took a corrupt model of healthcare, flipped it upside down and created a system that no longer served the interests of insurance companies, hospital systems, pharmaceutical companies, and bureaucracies.  

Family medicine changed everything. The collective momentum of insightful minds who put the system in a new perspective and created a model of healthcare where patients’ interests and well-being were prioritized through a system of primary care physicians and preventive care models that promoted well-being.

Why Family medicine? Why was this the specialty that pushed itself to the forefront in a sea of confusion and uncertainty?

Because we offer a perspective unlike any other, caring for all patients, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, income, or education.

Because our relationships with patients are like no other. Just as much as we may impact our patient’s lives, they impact ours.  

Because we introduced the model of shared decision making, allowing patients a vested interest in their own care, simplifying communication and tailoring decisions on the wants and needs of our patients.

Because we created quality metrics that were meaningful and improved outcomes, allowing for a greater understanding of our community at an individual level and in the frame of an entire population.

Because we expanded the concept of the ‘end of life’ discussion with our patients and their families in our clinical environment, building on a relationship of trust and care to prevent pain and uncertainty for the patient and their family, creating peace and closure when the time comes.

Because we continued to improve medical education, training world-class students and residents to pursue the challenge of healthcare reform to serve as advocates for our patients and the needs of all physicians.

Because we built a system that utilized novel technologies through virtual care, internet based communications and social media to connect with patients in ways that had never been seen. Increasing access and strengthening relationships.

Because we provided clarity and leadership in the age of ‘alphabet soup’ of healthcare reform, the age of the ACA, ACO, HMO, and MACRA, and created modern models for delivery of care that put the patient first.

Because we reached out to those who needed care the most, giving everyone in this country a chance to pursue their American dream and live a happy, healthy life.

Family medicine became the foundation for healthcare innovation and improvement in the 21st century. Not only did we revolutionize healthcare, but together, we saved it.

17 responses to “What I Want Family Medicine to Look Like in 2026

  1. Congratulations, Stephen. Our greatest barrier to your vision is our closed mindsets. Join the Million Online March to Address What’s Most Unfair about Healthcare. Sign/Share/Support Story Movements for Change. Deadline Dec 31st . Join campaign with Twitter and Facebook. https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/49497-campaign-for-fair-healthcare

  2. A wonderful reflection on what healthcare should be!

  3. Nicely stated Stephen! Congratulations!

  4. Dr Carek, excellent thoughts and we can only hope that the future looks as you envision. It will take some effort on the part of your generation to fix but I have no doubt you all are quite capable.

  5. Hopefully your vision will come to pass

  6. Loved the article! Excellent insight!

  7. Enjoyed!

  8. Great article Dr. Carek!

  9. Nicely done, thank you Dr. Carek!

  10. Teamwork makes the dream work! Great vision, Dr. Carek!

  11. Awesome insight to the shortcomings of our current system. Go for it!!!! Family medicine rocks!!!!!

  12. Thank you all for the support!

  13. Carpe diem family medicine!

  14. Congratulations, Dr. Carek! Great article!!

  15. Maribeth Porter

    Still great!

  16. Thank you everyone for the support!

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