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    It’s time a real investment is made in primary care

    Editor's Note: Welcome to Medical Economics' blog section which features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for bloggers to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Glen Stream, MD, FAAFP, MBI, a family physician practicing in La Quinta, California, who is also past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He serves as the president and board chair of Family Medicine for America’s Health. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Medical Economics or UBM Medica.

     

    Dr. StreamA recent survey by Morning Consult showed that across the country, in both red and blue states, the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that a health system based on a foundation of primary care produces healthier patients, higher quality healthcare and lower costs.

     

    Further reading: Is your practice's location financially hurting you?

     

    Primary care has strong bipartisan support—indeed, the survey results showed a broad consensus on the issue among American voters:

    ·      89% say it’s important to have a relationship with a doctor who knows your health background, your medical history and your family;

    ·      88% support ensuring coverage for preventive and wellness care to keep patients healthy; and

    ·      85% support paying doctors for better care and improving patient health instead of for the number of procedures performed.

    Unfortunately, current spending on primary care represents just 6% of total healthcare spending. Increasing it to 12%, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), would cut per-patient costs and lead to a decrease in overall health care expenditures.

     

    Trending on our site: This is how CPC+ is changing physician offices for the better

     

    Cost, of course, is not the only factor. Ensuring access is also a key part of any strategy to improve the nation’s healthcare system. Given the very real shortage of primary care physicians, policymakers should be looking for ways to add more primary care professionals to the health care mix.

    Next: "Unless something is done to reverse the trend, the situtation will only get worse"

    Glen Stream, MD, FAAFP, MBI
    Dr. Glen Stream, a family physician practicing in La Quinta, California, is past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. ...

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    • [email protected]
      As a PCP of 37 years I agree entirely with the sentiment. However no concrete suggestions were made. CCM, or Chronic Care Management, is the biggest step forward that Medicare has taken. It pays about $40 a month to a PCP per patient. However the rules and regulations are a nightmare including documentation, to the point that we have not implemented it. We plan to start enrolling about ten patients to start and see how we can manage the paperwork. Indeed, with more complex issues, it is time other insurers joined Medicare in this approach. It is essential that a PCP limit the practice to less than 1000 patients as compared to say two thousand that many PCPs handle. You just cannot provide good care for two thousand patients, not anymore. So much coordination of care is involved, what with patients seeing multiple physicians. PCPs are forced to have a large practice to pay their bills and have an income about half that of specialists. So yes, the nation needs to give more support to PCPs but...put your money where your mouth is, as the old saying goes! :) Otherwise most of the primary care will only be done by FNPs and PAs.

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