A Very Important Study. In January’s issue of Health Affairs there is a very important study on the topic of primary care provider capacity. Researchers from Columbia Business School and Wharton have developed a simulation model showing how practice innovation could potentially eliminate primary care physician shortages both now and under full implementation of health care reform. The specific innovations include physician pooling, appropriate use of non-physicians, and electronic communication. Their simulation shows that if these innovations were widely adopted, we could potentially offset the increase in demand for physician services while actually improving access to care, thereby averting a primary care physician shortage. Among many important implications of this work is an affirmation of what free clinics are already doing to pool physicians and make appropriate use of nurse practitioners and other non-physician professionals. Here is a link to the abstract:
We will try to get permission to distribute a reprint of the full article.