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Primary Care Crisis Exaggerated, Study Claims

01/14/13

  06:03:11 pm, by MedBen5   , 243 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Primary Care Crisis Exaggerated, Study Claims

Recent concerns of a looming shortage of primary care doctors are overblown, a new study suggests. However, some experts have taken issue with the conclusions reached.

According to MedPage Today, an analysis of potential responses to a reduced number of general physicians finds that by working in practices of two or three doctors, shifting a portion of patients to nonphysician providers and making more effective use of electronic health records (EHR), the projected shortage could be successfully addressed.

Writers of the study, published in the January issue of Health Affairs, argue that the statistic that the U.S. will be short more than 45,000 primary care physicians by 2020 doesn’t take into account changing patient demographics or alternate methods of delivering care.

But Modern Healthcare reports a second team of researchers counter that just making changes to existing medical practices and EHR won’t completely solve the problem.

“Our position is that you do have to do that stuff, but you also have to train a couple more thousand doctors a year – it’s not an either-or proposition,” said co-author Dr. Atul Grover, chief public policy officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Grover added that while he agrees “there are ways we can improve practices and we need to make better use of our professionals’ time,” the Health Affairs analysis overstates the usefulness of care delivered online or over the phone, while failing to take into account the lack of doctors in rural areas.

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