PATIENTS TO STICK CLOSER TO "MEDICAL HOME"

February 16, 2010

Get ready for the newest buzz phrase in health care: the "patient-centered medical home."  It's a fancy name for the office your primary care doctor works out of, says the Lansing State Journal. 

The growth of urgent care centers and the expected growth of after hours walk-in retail clinics has contributed to a push for patients to stick with their "medical homes," says the Journal: 

  • Currently, there are 1,100 to 1,200 walk-in retail clinics nationally.
  • That is expected to jump to 3,200 in 2014, according to a recent report by the National Center for Policy Analysis. 

"People are going to all different places for their medical care," says Dr. Carol Monson, chairwoman of Family and Community Medicine at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

Doctors don't want patients going to several different offices because there's no guarantee of continuity in care.  There also is an added cost to insurance companies and patients if tests are duplicated. 

That's why doctors such as Monson expect insurance companies in the future to restrict where patients can go for after-hours care.  That will mean traditional doctors' offices are going to start partnering with urgent care centers and retail clinics, experts say. 

The trend is partially a function of doctor availability, Matthews says.  There just aren't enough family doctors.  Newly graduating doctors have so much student debt, they tend to go into surgical specialties.  Statistics from the Michigan Department of Community Health suggest it can be difficult in general to find a physician in this state: 

  • In 2008, 62 percent of doctors surveyed say their practices were full or nearly full. There were 42,305 licensed doctors that year.
  • The numbers were up from 2005 when 42 percent of doctors surveyed reported their practices were full or nearly full.
  • There were 39,159 licensed physicians in the state that year. 

Source: Christine Rook, "Push on for patients to stick closer to 'medical home'; Consistent care is concern with rise in urgent care, clinics," Lansing State Journal, February 16, 2010; and Devon Herrick, "Retail Clinics: Convenient and Affordable Care," Brief Analysis No. 686, January 14, 2010. 

For NCPA report:

http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba686 

 

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