Much has been recently made about the bureaucratic obstacles that primary care doctors face. With good reason. The impetus was a recent New England Journal of Medicine paper from Richard J. Baron that I mentioned recently.
The New York Times’ Pauline Chen interviewed Dr. Baron, who shared some interesting insights on what needs to be done. He contrasts the inertia in primary care to drug manufacturing.
If you took the resources that went into drug development, for instance, “and put them into a program like this that achieves meaningful levels of behavior change, a lot more patients could be better off.” In other words, research into new primary care models isn’t taking off because the money isn’t there.
But Dr. Baron also notes that money isn’t everything, since “primary care practitioners have been saying that we either already do or would do certain things if you paid us more. It’s true that you can’t do things consistently, reliably and across scales without additional payment. But payment is not enough. People have to change what they are thinking about when they go to work.” Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*
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*