Is a good family doctor one who treats your knee pain and manages your recovery from heart surgery? Or is it one who refers you to an orthopedist and a cardiologist? Those are questions at the heart of a debate about primary care – one with serious health and financial implications. A study from the American Academy of Family Physician’s Robert Graham Centersheds some light on this topic. The findings, published in the latest issue ofAnnals of Family Medicine, suggest that family doctors who provide more care themselves save the health system money. The researchers looked at 3,652 family physicians and 555,165 Medicare patients across the country. They found that patients of physicians who provided a wider range of services experienced fewer hospitalizations and incurred lower health care costs. ”Patients were 35 percent less likely to end up in a hospital if their family doctor was very comprehensive, compared with a doctor who was minimally comprehensive,” says Dr. Robert Phillips, of the American Board of Family Medicine and one of the authors of the study.
NPR Shots, May 11, 2015