Thursday, January 14, 2010

Misconception - Primary care physicians do not deal with the expensive aspects of medical care so they can have little impact on reducing medical expenditures.

Two major reasons for cost escalation are lack of good care coordination of those with complex chronic illnesses and inadequate attention to prevention and screening. PCPs are key to both of these but they have too little time per patient and are not paid for either activity.

About 5% of all healthcare expenditures go to PCPs but they can have a major impact on the other 95%, especially with good care coordination of chronic illness and with a focus on prevention. To fix this, PCPs need to be incented [paid] to deliver care coordination for the chronically ill and good preventive care to all of their patients. This could have a very high return on investment and a huge impact on total costs. It is a logical place to begin to address the high costs of medical care in America.

Praise for Dr Schimpff

The craft of science writing requires skills that are arguably the most underestimated and misunderstood in the media world. Dumbing down all too often gets mistaken for clarity. Showmanship frequently masks a poor presentation of scientific issues. Factoids are paraded in lieu of ideas. Answers are marketed at the expense of searching questions. By contrast, Steve Schimpff provides a fine combination of enlightenment and reading satisfaction. As a medical scientist he brings his readers encyclopedic knowledge of his subject. As a teacher and as a medical ambassador to other disciplines he's learned how to explain medical breakthroughs without unnecessary jargon. As an advisor to policymakers he's acquired the knack of cutting directly to the practical effects, showing how advances in medical science affect the big lifestyle and economic questions that concern us all. But Schimpff's greatest strength as a writer is that he's a physician through and through, caring above all for the person. His engaging conversational style, insights and fascinating treasury of cutting-edge information leave both lay readers and medical professionals turning his pages. In his hands the impact of new medical technologies and discoveries becomes an engrossing story about what lies ahead for us in the 21st century: as healthy people, as patients of all ages, as children, as parents, as taxpayers, as both consumers and providers of health services. There can be few greater stories than the adventure of what awaits our minds, bodies, budgets, lifespans and societies as new technologies change our world. Schimpff tells it with passion, vision, sweep, intelligence and an urgency that none of us can ignore.

-- N.J. Slabbert, science writer, co-author of Innovation, The Key to Prosperity: Technology & America's Role in the 21st Century Global Economy (with Aris Melissaratos, director of technology enterprise at the John Hopkins University).