Profile of Physicians in the Nursing Home: Time Perception and Barriers to Optimal Medical Practice

University of Rochester, Division of Geriatrics & Aging, Rochester, NY 14620, USA.
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (Impact Factor: 4.94). 03/2009; 10(2):93-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2008.07.007
Source: PubMed


To describe physician medical practice in nursing homes, including actual time spent for routine encounters with nursing home residents and demographic characteristics of the physicians who serve as medical directors; to determine the congruence between actual time spent for routine encounters with nursing home residents and the physician's view of the optimal time; and to identify barriers to providing optimal visits.
A mail survey of a national random sample of 200 medical directors of all Medicare-certified nursing facilities using the Dillman Total Design mail survey methodology.
100 medical directors (50% response rate).
The survey consisted of open- and closed-ended items on the following: the demographic characteristics of the medical director; demographic characteristics of the nursing home; the extent of the medical director's nursing home practice, including the ideal and actual time spent in nursing home visits for 4 common types of visits; and perception of barriers to providing optimum visits in the nursing home.
Medical directors were most likely to be primary care physicians, the majority of whom were male; had practiced in long-term care for more than 18 years; were medical directors in 2 facilities; provided, on average, primary care in 4 facilities; spent 31 hours per month in the nursing home with nursing staff; and devoted 44% of their practice to nursing homes. Most, (74%) were members of the American Medical Directors Association (AMDA), 41% were certified medical directors (CMD), 42% had a certificate of added qualification (CAQ) in geriatrics, and only 15% had fellowship training. Reports of actual time spent on 4 common types of nursing home visits were significantly less than optimal visit times, but fellowship-trained physicians reported significantly greater discrepancies between the optimal and actual time spent for the 30- to 60-day reviews and readmissions compared with physicians who were not. A parallel pattern was seen comparing physicians with and without CAQs. Nursing support and accurate/accessible information were recorded as most problematic and reimbursement the least problematic barrier to providing optimal nursing home visits.
The present study provides a snapshot of current physician practice in US nursing homes. Such information is needed as the debate over the physician's role in the nursing home continues and new policy is framed that will ultimately define the future of medical practice in the nursing home. That 74% of the national survey respondents were members of AMDA suggests that the AMDA membership is representative of the national medical director population.

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