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Baby Boomers Are Bypassing Primary Care

Office-based practices are focusing increasingly on patients 45 and older, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2008, those 45 and older accounted for 57 percent of all office visits, compared to 49 percent in 1998. Prescriptions, scans and time spent with the doctor also became increasingly concentrated on those middle aged and older, according to data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Also, physician visits increasingly concentrated on medical and surgical specialists and less on care provided by primary care practitioners for those ages 45 and older. Furthermore, for patients ages 65 and older, the percentage of visits to primary care specialists decreased from 62 percent to 45 percent from 1978 to 2008, while the percentage of visits to physicians with a medical or surgical specialty increased from 37 percent to 55 percent. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

From “Winnie The Pooh”: Edward Bear And Primary Care

Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. 

– From A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner.”

Internists, I expect, will identify with Edward Bear.

Richard Baron’s study in the NEJM on the amount of work he and his colleagues do outside of an office visit — the “bump, bump, bump” of a busy internal medicine (IM) practice — has resonated with many of his colleagues.

Jay Larson, who often posts comments on this blog, did a similar analysis for his general IM practice in Montana, and found that for every one patient seen in the office, tasks are done for 6 other unscheduled patients. Jay writes: “So really there [are] internists [who] are managing about 130 patients per day. Not much consolation when they only get paid for 18 per day.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

How To Micro-Tweak Diagnosis And Treatment

A common problem in healthcare is the number of times that small adjustments are needed in a person’s care. Often for these little changes, a physical exam and face-to-face time have nothing to do with good medical decision making.

Yet the patient and doctor are locked in a legacy-industrialized business model that requires the patient to pay a co-pay and waste at least half of their day driving to and from the office, logging time in a waiting room, and then visiting five minutes with their practitioner for the needed medical information or advice.

Today I’d like to visit the case of a patient I’ll call “DD,” who I easily diagnosed with temporal arteritis (TA) through a 15-minute phone call after she’d spent four weeks as the healthcare system fumbled her time with delays and misdirection via several doctors without establishing a firm diagnosis. Read more »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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