There are close to a quarter million primary care physicians in the U.S., more than any other individual specialty, and about half the total number of all specialists combined. Yet, somehow, primary care seems to lack the power and social influence necessary to chart its own professional course. As the availability and granularity of specialist physicians increased, the value proposition of a generalist primary care doctor seems to have become unclear ...

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The nationwide shortage of physicians is a very real crisis across all 50 states, causing a huge strain at all levels of health care. Hospitals and clinics are struggling to hire, current physicians are overworked, and ultimately patients have to wait longer. There are a number of reasons why this has happened, but one thing’s for sure: With the aging population, the problem is only going to get worse. One estimate from ...

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Medicaid A physician friend of mine posted a copy of her Medicaid reimbursement on Facebook. Take a look at the charges compared to the actual reimbursement. She is paid between $6.82 and $17.54 for an hour of her time (i.e., on average, she makes less than minimum wage when treating a patient on Medicaid). The enthusiasm for expanding Medicaid coverage to the previously uninsured ...

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The Obama administration on Monday announced an ambitious goal to overhaul the way doctors are paid, tying their fees more closely to the quality of care rather than the quantity.
Holy crap: They’re really doing it. Or trying to do it. Who the hell knows what they’re trying to do? Not “them,” that’s for sure. The United States government via the Department ...

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All physicians know the scenario. You want to reassure the patient; the patient wants another (usually expensive) test. In our new metric age, we may have a conflict between overuse and patient satisfaction. The article provides some hospitalist data: "Hospitalists know guidelines but overuse tests to reassure selves, patients." How do we balance making our best evidence-based decisions with patient demands? Some experts will tell us that we really have a ...

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You should know that medical documentation has gone awry. But you really just have no idea. If you’ve been to the hospital or to the doctor’s office even once this year, I’m willing to bet that at least a portion of your medical information is now found somewhere within an electronic medical record (EMR). An EMR is really just some mega-computer that stores your health information. Lots of it.  And, I guarantee you that ...

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Of all the radical changes affecting health care that have sent providers reeling, we are about to experience the knockout punch: the effort to change health care reimbursement from a quantity-based to a quality-based system. Of all the changes to health care, I can't think of any other that has been based on more false assumptions. Given the fact that there is always low hanging fruit, supporters of the quality-based ...

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Why is it so hard to make a dent in the huge volume of unnecessary health care? In the U.S., about 20 to 30 percent of the medical interventions American patients receive are useless and often harmful, and waste hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Insurers have known this for decades. These days, many more doctors have begun to see the big picture, along with policy makers.  But the ...

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shutterstock_66058726 Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an ambitious goal to have 85 percent of payments made to doctors linked to clinical quality measures within the next two years. HHS believes that incentives should be weighted almost entirely toward quality of care instead of volume of care. I guess if you're a patient, you could ask yourself the ...

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Rural hospitals are fighting for their lives. Over the past five years, more than 40 rural facilities have closed their doors due to lack of funding. And because the majority of their funds come fromMedicare and Medicaid -- two government programs facing potential cutbacks in 2015 -- many rural hospitals may be fighting a losing battle.   Understandably, small-town residents fear hospital closures or downsizing may leave them vulnerable when serious ...

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