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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Changing the Shortage of Primary Care Physicians
05/21/2012

Click to hear the taped broadcast.

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

More than 22 percent of Texans live in an area that has a shortage of primary care physicians. The Health Services and Resources Administration says that 56 percent of the patient visits in the United States are for primary care. But only 37 percent of the physicians practice primary care medicine, and only 8 percent of medical students go into family practice.

That is a significant problem because a strong primary care system is critical to improve the health of the people and bend the cost-curve of health services. Primary care physicians provide people with a “medical home” and help people navigate a complex tangle of services.

Texas Health is developing a new model of care for the communities we serve, and one part of our strategy is to expand the capabilities of our primary care network.

We’re providing physicians with enhanced tools that enable them to coordinate care for their whole patient population, one individual at a time. We are helping them deliver the right care at the right time in the right setting.

Texas Health will continue to advocate for changes designed to increase the number of medical students who choose primary care. Through collaboration with policy makers and medical schools, we are committed to expanding the number of medical residency slots and increasing support for scholarships and medical school faculty salaries.

For our faith-based health system — Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Arlington Memorial — I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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