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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Increasing Access to Primary Care

Click to listen to the taped broadcast.

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

Primary care is the cornerstone of health care. In recent years, we’ve seen a decrease in the number of primary care physicians and a decline in access to primary care. The promises of greater financial rewards and more control of their work hours have attracted many medical students into specialties, rather than primary care.

According to figures from the Texas Medical Board, the increase in primary care physicians has not kept pace with the growing population of Texas. In 2002, there were approximately 71 primary care physicians for every 100,000 Texans. In 2005, that ratio dropped to less than 69.

Primary care physicians provide frontline care to patients and coordinate their journey through the increasingly complex environment of health care. Primary care physicians typically provide preventive services and can often make early diagnoses – both measures that are proven to lead to improved outcomes.

THR and other health care providers are working to make it more attractive for medical school graduates to enter primary care practices. One strategy is to increase funding to hospitals for residency programs for training 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 – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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