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'The Business of Health Care Report'

JAMA: Fewer Physicians Choosing Primary Care
10/20/2008

Click to listen to this taped broadcast.

I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

Primary care is the cornerstone of American health care, providing frontline care to patients and helping coordinate their journey through the complex environment of health care.

The number of primary care physicians, or “family doctors,” has steadily decreased in recent years as medical students have chosen more lucrative specialties that allow them greater control over their work hours.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the trend away from primary care and toward specialties is becoming even more marked as graduating medical students choose to avoid the increasing demands on internists to treat a large volume of elderly and medically complex patients.

Primary care physicians provide a substantial portion of chronic disease care for elderly patients. With the number of adults over 50 in the United States expected to double between 2005 and 2030, we need more, not fewer, physicians to choose primary care.

THR and other health care providers are working to make it more attractive for medical school graduates to enter primary care. One strategy is to increase funding to hospitals for residency programs to train primary care physicians. THR encourages providers, medical educators and policy makers to work together to find ways to increase access to primary care.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith based hospitals, Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist, and Texas Health Arlington Memorial, I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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