The healthcare reform law's push to increase the number of primary-care physicians may not improve patients' perceived quality of care as hoped, according to new research from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and the CMS.
More docs, better perceived care? Not so, researchers find
Specifically, Medicare patients in regions with more physicians were no more satisfied with their care than patients in areas with fewer physicians, according to a study by researchers from the two organizations published in the February issue of Health Affairs.
Additionally, seniors in areas with many physicians were no more likely to have a primary-care physician as their personal clinician. And living in areas with the most physicians also failed to increase the amount of time spent with a clinician as well as access to tests and specialists.
"Although much focus is on a potential physician shortage, we found that having more physicians overall is unlikely to lead to improved access to care, higher satisfaction or greater assurance of having a personal physician,” said Dr. David Goodman, report author and co-principal investigator for the Dartmouth Atlas Project and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, in a news release.
The healthcare law will provide $168 million to create additional primary-care residency slots to train at least 500 new primary care physicians by 2015.
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