Primary care in a new era: disillusion and dissolution?.
ABSTRACT The current dilemmas in primary care stem from 1) the unintended consequences of forces thought to promote primary care and 2) the "disruptive technologies of care" that attack the very function and concept of primary care itself. This paper suggests that these forces, in combination with "tiering" in the health insurance market, could lead to the dissolution of primary care as a single concept, to be replaced by alignment of clinicians by economic niche. Evidence already exists in the marketplace for both tiering of health insurance benefits and corresponding practice changes within primary care. In the future, primary care for the top tier will cater to the affluent as "full-service brokers" and will be delivered by a wide variety of clinicians. The middle tier will continue to grapple with tensions created by patient demand and bureaucratic systems but will remain most closely aligned to primary care as a concept. The lower tier will become increasingly concerned with community health and social justice. Each primary care specialty will adapt in a unique way to a tiered world, with general internal medicine facing the most challenges. Given this forecast for the future, those concerned about primary care should focus less on workforce issues and more on macro health care financing and organization issues (such as Medicare reform); appropriate training models; and the development of a conception of primary care that emphasizes values and ethos, not just function.
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ABSTRACT: . To determine if the supply of physicians has a consistent relationship with mortality across regions. County-level data describing the supply of physicians, mortality, and socioeconomic conditions of the population as provided in the Area Resource File (BHPr, HRSA) and the Compressed Mortality File (NCHS, CDC). Ordinary least squares and geographically weighted regression models with age-adjusted all-cause and disease-specific mortality as the dependent variables were specified using pooled data from 1996 to 2000 to test for the relationship with primary care and specialist physician-population ratios. The residuals from the OLS models were mapped and examined for potential clustering. A series of geographically weighted regression models were run for all 3,070 counties and the z-scores and significance of the models mapped. The association between primary care physician supply and mortality was not observed in contrast to other studies; mapping the residuals of those models suggested regional clustering. When weighted geographically, the relationship between primary care and specialist physician supply and mortality presents a mixed pattern. The results show strong regional patterns that may explain the lack of a consistent national association. Primary care physicians are associated with decreased mortality on the east coast and upper midwest, but that correlation disappears or is reversed in the west (with the exception of Washington State) and south central states. We find evidence that there are regionally focused association between physician supply and mortality, holding constant population characteristics that reflect the influence of social and economic characteristics. However, these relationships are not consistent across the United States; there are regions where there are stronger and weaker associations between type of practitioner and mortality and other regions where no association is apparent. This suggests that the direction for further analysis lies in the understanding of the regional differences and whether there are policy alternatives to address these different patterns.Health Services Research 01/2008; 42(6 Pt 1):2233-51; discussion 2294-323. DOI:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2007.00728.x · 2.49 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: With increasingly fewer family physicians in many countries and students less interested in primary care careers, generalists are becoming an endangered species. This situation is a major health care resource management challenge. In a rapidly changing health care environment, family medicine is struggling for a clear identity -- a matter which is crucial to health system restructuring because it affects the roles and functioning of other professions in the system. The objective of our study was to explore representations of roles and responsibilities of family physicians held by future family and specialist physicians and their clinical teachers in four Canadian medical school faculties of medicine, using both focus groups and individual interviews. In addition to family medicine, we targeted residency programs in general psychiatry, radiology and internal medicine -- three areas that interface significantly between primary care and specialized medicine. In each faculty, respondents included the vice-dean of postgraduate studies; the director of each relevant program; educators in the program; residents in each specialty in their last year of training. Findings are centred around three major themes: (1) the definition of family medicine; (2) family medicine as an endangered species, and (3) the generation gap between young family physicians and their educators. The sustained physician-patient relationship is considered a core characteristic of family medicine that is much valued by patients and physicians -- both generalists and specialists -- as something to be preserved in any model of collaboration to be developed. Overall, two divergent directions emerge: preserving all the professions' traditional functions while adapting to changing contexts, or concentrating on areas of expertise and moving towards creating "specialist" general practitioners, in response to a rapidly expanding scope of practice, and to the high value attributed to specialization by society and the professional system.Social Science & Medicine 10/2008; 67(7):1153-63. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.06.019 · 2.56 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Primary care is essential to the effective and efficient functioning of health care delivery systems, yet there is an impending crisis in the field due in part to a dysfunctional payment system. We present a fundamentally new model of payment for primary care, replacing encounter-based imbursement with comprehensive payment for comprehensive care. Unlike former iterations of primary care capitation (which simply bundled inadequate fee-for-service payments), our comprehensive payment model represents new investment in adult primary care, with substantial increases in payment over current levels. The comprehensive payment is directed to practices to include support for the modern systems and teams essential to the delivery of comprehensive, coordinated care. Income to primary physicians is increased commensurate with the high level of responsibility expected. To ensure optimal allocation of resources and the rewarding of desired outcomes, the comprehensive payment is needs/risk-adjusted and performance-based. Our model establishes a new social contract with the primary care community, substantially increasing payment in return for achieving important societal health system goals, including improved accessibility, quality, safety, and efficiency. Attainment of these goals should help offset and justify the costs of the investment. Field tests of this and other new models of payment for primary care are urgently needed.Journal of General Internal Medicine 04/2007; 22(3):410-5. DOI:10.1007/s11606-006-0083-2 · 3.42 Impact Factor