Tag Archives: doctors

Are Young Adults Heading to the Doctor?

I write about health and health care, but even I’m not immune to the “young and invincible” mentality. My annual dental checkup is more than six months overdue.

A provision of the Affordable Care Act that took effect in 2010 aimed to make it easier for young adults to access preventive care by allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26. As of 2011, some 3 million young adults gained coverage through this provision.

So does this mean more young people are getting their annual checkups and cholesterol screenings?

Sort of, suggests a study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found that after the provision took effect, the number of young adults using preventive care services went up slightly.

Between 2009 and 2011, there was a 3 percent increase in the number of young people getting routine checkups, and a 5 percent increase in annual dental visits.

But the 18- to 25-year-old group is still avoiding annual flu shots.

Though the improvement is modest, it is encouraging, says Dr. Josephine Lau, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UCSF who led the study. “This study shows us, basically, if we remove the financial barrier, young adults will actually take us up on getting the care that they need.”

The results are based on data from the annual Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services. The researchers only looked at the numbers through 2011, before young adults had the option to get insurance through state and federal exchanges.

“As we start analyzing data from 2012, 2013 and 2014, we will likely see a further uptick in the number of young people getting preventive care,” Lau says.

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Doctor Quality Data Unuseful to Consumers

Consumers searching this fall for the best doctor covered by their new public or private insurance plan won’t get very far on a federal database designed to rate physician quality.

The Affordable Care Act requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide physician quality data, but that database offers only the most basic information. It’s so limited, health care experts say, as to be useless to many consumers.

This comes as people shopping for insurance on the state or federal exchanges will find increasingly narrow networks of doctors and may be forced to find a new one. Many with employer-provided plans will face the same predicament.

A report out last week by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute said insurers were limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals for those buying insurance on health insurance exchanges to keep premiums low.

The CMS data include only 66 group practices and 141 accountable care organizations (ACOs). There are about 600,000 doctors in the USA, tens of thousands of group practices and more than 600 ACOs, which are partnerships between doctors and hospitals to treat a group of patients efficiently.

The database lists just five areas of doctors’ effectiveness in treating diabetes and heart disease. These include whether doctors prescribed aspirin and how well they controlled diabetics’ blood pressure.

“They are behind, there’s no doubt,” says Terry Ketchersid, a kidney physician and vice president of clinical health information management for the electronic health records company Acumen.

“The goal of these sites is for the average Medicare beneficiary to go out and make an intelligent choice,” he says, but only another doctor would understand what to make of the ratings.

The CMS plans to add more quality measures and patient experience data for ACOs this year, spokesman Aaron Albright says. He says the CMS uses a “phased approach for public reporting to make sure the data are accurate and the measures reported help consumers make informed health care decisions.”

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

A Look Into Doctors Treating Patients Like Themselves

New York Times Blog Hard Cases delves into the unpredictable outcomes of doctors taking care of patients who are exactly like themselves.

Dr. Abigail Zuger explores interpersonal chemistry, gender, and ethnicity to determine what binds and estranges patients and doctors. Furthermore, if this type of connection causes any different outcome in patients’ health.

“Professional training may not remove the interpersonal chemistry that binds us to some and estranges us from others, but it can neutralize these forces somewhat, enough to enable civilized and productive dialogue among all comers. Yet until the day when we deal only in cells, organs and genes and not their human containers, we will, for better or worse, always see ourselves in some patients, our friends and relatives in others, and our patients will likewise instinctively experience doctor as mother or father, buddy or virtual stranger.”

Dr. Zuger portrays two stories of female patients visiting a gynecologist she has referred them to. Patient A is enamored with gynecologist because she understands her feelings and concerns. While Patient B is underwhelmed by the gynecologist. As Patient B and her doctor discuss menstrual cramps, her doctors states “they’re just not all that bad.”

Data collected over a decade concluded that most women preferred female gynecologists because they communicated better with one another. A separate study found patients who saw doctors of the same race generally had longer and friendlier visits.

However, when it comes to health outcomes, results are scattered. One study found that having a doctor of the same race had no correlation with good blood pressure, the important this was whether the patient trusted the doctor. While another study discovered that black patients took their medications a little more assiduously, but the same did not hold true for Asians and Asian doctors.

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

 

 

 

 

The LinkedIn for Doctors

Did you know there’s a good chance your doctor is sharing casework and referrals about you over such a network, and they don’t really want you there getting in the way, either.

The network’s called Doximity, and it claims that 4 out of 10 doctors in the U.S. now uses it to meet other doctors, share coursework, and brush up on tough cases or recent news from trade journals. And doctors are chatty, the 300,000 who have signed up to date sharing about 20,000 messages each day.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary