Obama Administration Plans ‘Stealth’ Study Of Patient Access To Physicians
In an effort to explore what the administration termed a "critical public policy problem" - a shortage of primary care physicians - a team of "mystery shoppers" will be recruited to find out how hard it is to get care when it is needed.
The New York Times: U.S. Plans Stealth Survey On Access To Doctors
Alarmed by a shortage of primary care doctors, Obama administration officials are recruiting a team of "mystery shoppers" to pose as patients, call doctors' offices and request appointments to see how difficult it is for people to get care when they need it. The administration says the survey will address a "critical public policy problem": the increasing shortage of primary care doctors, including specialists in internal medicine and family practice. It will also try to discover whether doctors are accepting patients with private insurance while turning away those in government health programs that pay lower reimbursement rates (Pear, 6/26).
Politico: Report: Obama Plans Secret Study Of Access To Doctors
A good doctor can be hard to find and, as anyone who's looked for a new primary care physician knows, finding one who's accepting new patients can be next to impossible. But the Obama administration, alarmed by the "critical public policy problem" of a growing shortage of primary care physicians, is embarking on a secret shopper investigation aimed at getting a handle on just how hard it is to get an appointment with a doctor who specializes in internal medicine, The New York Times reported Monday (Epstein, 6/27).
Meanwhile, some news outlets report on the important role that primary care physicians play in saving on health care costs and keeping people healthy.
Los Angeles Times: What Happened To The Family Doctor?
Numerous studies have found that when primary care works well, patients are healthier, with better management of chronic diseases and fewer emergency-room visits and hospitalizations. All that saves health care dollars too. But many doctors say there is not enough time in a typical 15- to 20-minute office visit to cover all the tests, inquiries and procedures recommended by medical schools, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and other organizations - even when dealing with a healthy patient (Delude, 6/27).
Modern Healthcare: Study Says Patient-Centered Care Tied To Lower Costs, Better Outcomes
A good bedside manner not only puts patients at ease, it can help lower medical costs and reduce unnecessary medical interventions, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Physicians who engage in personalized discussions with patients and urge them to take a more active role in their own treatment - known as "patient-centered care" - produce better outcomes and fewer frivolous and costly tests and specialist referrals, researchers at the University of California at Davis said (Vesely, 6/26).