A recent New York Times article highlights the main way health care costs are being limited: cutting payments to physicians. With revenues declining over the past few years, physicians have had to ramp up the number of patients they see in order to keep their income competitive. With physician reimbursement declining, volume has become the name of the game.
Sandeep Jauhar, MD states, “I know in private practice I used to see 15 patients a day. Now reimbursement is so low I have to see at least 30. If I stay in the room more than 10 minutes, my assistant will call me and tell me to hurry up.” The consequences of rushing through “patient encounters” could be tremendous. According to the Institute of Medicine, “has estimated that wasteful health care spending costs about $750 billion in the United States every year. Unnecessary or inefficiently delivered services, especially in hospitals, account for by far the largest chunk.” In order to rectify this pressing issue, health care leaders must develop creative ways to increase reimbursement levels to physicians…and fast.
One solution recommended by the article is “to hire doctors as employees and put them on a salary, as they do at the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics, which takes away some of the financial impetus to cram more and more patients into a workday.” No matter what approach the health care industry decides to take, the objective is simple: Control health care costs without cutting doctors payments.
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