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Not the same old doctor

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Experts project that by the time 2020 rolls around in just five years, the American health care field will see a shortage of 20,400 primary care physicians.  One thought is that primary care nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) could relieve some of the strain since their numbers are increasing more rapidly than the physician supply and frankly, they cost less too.  However, a study from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) suggests by utilizing NPs and PAs that the shortage could somewhat mitigated although not completely, making it difficult for patients to find doctors and get appointments.  It’s going to take more than shuffling personnel needs down the line.

While healthcare costs have risen at the slowest rate in 50 years, many experts attribute that slow growth to the effects of the recession and don’t believe it’s sustainable.  They believe our current recovery will push spending back up in the next few years.  Experts expect other costs, such as pharmaceutical prices, also to rise after what they consider a short sabbatical when several popular drugs came off patent.  The medical field is asking, how do health care providers continue to deliver quality health care at a sustainable rate for a rapidly growing population?  Iora Primary Care thinks it has the answer.  Iora operates a dozen practices now but its founders, Rushika Fernandopulle, MD, and Christopher McKown, hope to make it the equivalent of a Starbucks model for healthcare.  Its business model utilizes a team-approach as part of their answer to finding that solution but it doesn’t stop there.

Iora’s founders believe that our current primary care service is designed around providing hospital treatment.  In answer, they’ve changed Iora’s payment model to reduce the need for expensive hospital treatment and make money on the savings from preventing patients from going to that level.  One way they do so is by incorporating health coaches and family members in a patient’s care.  The team approach allows them to address the stumbling blocks to good health such as transportation issues and other complex issues.

In Seattle, Iora focuses on seniors with Humana Medicare Advantage plans.  Patients there have access to care teams 24/7 by phone and it guarantees same or next day visits for patients with urgent needs.  Their goals is to work with patients to develop individualized plans to help patients realize their health goals while providing the support needed for the patient to stay on track.  You can read the original story here.

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