There’s been a lot of controversy recently about workplace wellness programs: Do they save money for employers on health care costs? Can they produce measurable benefits for employee health? Do they unfairly punish people who are unable to participate? Are these programs just a ploy to shift medical costs to unhealthy employees? Recently Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll revisited these questions in a piece for the New York Times’ Upshot column, “
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1. Physician assistant (PA) growth will remain unprecedented. Demand is driving growth and PA program expansion.  The educational programs are charging students higher tuition costs for these coveted PA positions. PA students now acquire unparalleled debt, according to a recent Robert Graham Center report; one in four PA students owed more than $100,000. Although high student debt may impact PA graduates ability to go into fields like primary ...

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While there are plenty of valid reasons to be skeptical about the Affordable Care Act, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, it’s hard to argue that imposing an individual mandate to purchase insurance won’t result in more people obtaining coverage. According to the results of a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that’s precisely what’s happened. Based on results of the National ...

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Part of a series. Patients need doctors that take time to listen which means a limited number of patients under care. Employers need programs that reduce costs and ideally improve the health of their staff. These apparently disparate needs can come together in a new model for effective company-sponsored primary care programs. Those of you who have followed this series know that I am an advocate for PCPs finding ways to ...

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In health policy circles (yes, those exist!), experts often refer to three aims for a modern health care system: to offer 1) universal access to 2) high quality medical care at 3) an affordable cost. Access, quality, and cost: a possibly unachievable set of goals, certainly in the U.S., where the quality of our care is decent (but uneven), while access to care and the high cost of our care compare dismally to ...

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Urgent care wont replace primary care. Heres why. About seven years ago, the California Healthcare Roundtable and Health Affairs sat down to prepare a white paper on the emerging phenomenon of urgent care centers, and what it might mean for primary care. At the time the group couldn’t agree that urgent care (UC) was a disruptive innovation, but it seemed clear to all participants that it represented a threat to primary care: ...

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This is what population health looks like It is a beautiful day here in my little college town. The sun is shining and at 11 a.m. it is about 78 degrees with a barely perceptible breeze. People are out walking on Main Street and riding their bikes. The mountain nearby calls: I can go for a hike today with my dog and still be within 20 minutes or so ...

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5 health care megatrends to watch for Recently, Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers told me that U.S. health care is at a tipping point. A positive one, he hopes, but the truth is no one knows for sure which direction the system will tip. At the close of our interview, I asked Chambers what health care topic he’d like me to cover in the future. He asked me to ...

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The new VA secretary, Robert A. McDonald, speaking to a room-full of reporters, acknowledged for the first time that the department needed to hire "tens of thousands of new doctors, new nurses, new clinicians." It is now accepted that a shortage of employees directly involved in treating patients was a main driver in the waiting-list scandal that rocked the agency this year. The second, and equally important driver, was the artificially created benchmarks, that ...

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Just a few years ago it seemed that advocates for health care transparency had scored a big victory. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they would rate nursing homes by awarding five stars to the best and fewer stars to lower-quality facilities. Families searching for care for loved ones would have access to a familiar rating system to help them make choices. After all, star ratings for ...

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