Personal Physicians Ensure Better Care
Patients with a regular doctor, either at a
community health center or at the physician’s office,
reported receiving better quality healthcare and had a better health
care experience than patients who had a regular place of care but lack
an established physician relationship.
The findings appeared in the Journal of Health
Care for the Poor and Underserved, co-authored by Dr. Anne Beal, head
of the Aetna Foundation; and Susan Hernandez, formerly of The
The healthcare system is facing a paradox, the
authors said. National health reform is making primary care available
to more people as the number of primary care doctors decline.
"We don’t know the full impact of their
declining numbers on health outcomes," Beal wrote.
The researchers polled nearly 3,000 adults who saw
a doctor regularly, regardless of location, and then analyzed the
respondents’ quality of care, as defined by receiving
preventive care, as well as their personal experiences with care.
The American College of Physicians estimates that
only one third of physicians in the United States practice primary
care, and the Department of Health and Human Services estimated in 2009
that more than 16,000 primary care physicians are required to meet the
current needs of the U.S. population.
According to the 2010 National Resident Matching
Program, the number of U.S. medical students choosing internal medicine
residencies was up about a modest 3 percent in 2009.
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