A new healthcare company says that it’s primary care model can actually lower healthcare costs according to the NY Times

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500x500_Health-care A new healthcare company says that it's primary care model can actually lower healthcare costs according to the NY Times Medical Homes, ACO models and other methods of improving physician communication are supposed to reduce the cost of care, but so far, the numbers are not very convincing. Unfortunately, you can put a pig on a diet, but it is still a pig. Doctors are trained to refer people to hospitals and since they will do what they were trained to do, why would you expect any different outcome with any version of our current paradigm? Even if you reduce costs with global fees, the problem is that physician habits are not changing unless the paradigm does, and the problem has been deeply exacerbated by making physicians see more people (thank you HMO's) which has ballooned costs, as more referrals are resulting from the doctors themselves having less time to figure things out with their patient. A new company has a different model, and retrains their doctors and builds on their practices with support staff. Rather than the HMO starvation model which emphasized volume and nurse triage with harried primary care doctors that ended up referring out too many patients to specialists who sent them to other specialists, this new model is about a better experience for the patient and the emphasis of patient health vs. the sickness hospital model. Their position is that if they keep the patient out of the hospital, and help them stay healthy, costs come down. So far, their model has begun to earn some fans and some in the healthcare industry are now taking notice. Check out the article here Company Thinks It Has Answer for Lower Health Costs: Customer Service Matthew Ryan Williams

Virginnia Schock seemed headed for a health crisis. She was 64 years old, had poorly controlled diabetes, a wound on her foot and a cast on her broken wrist. She didn't drive, so getting to the people who could tend to her ailments was complicated and expensive. She had stopped taking her diabetes pills months before and was reluctant to use insulin; she was afraid of needles and was worried that a friend's son, a drug addict, might use her syringes to inject them.

She was, however, able to make a phone call. And one day in October, in the offices of Iora Primary Care in Seattle, Dr. Carroll Haymon and Lisa Barrow, a "health coach," huddled around a speakerphone, talking to her. Ms. Schock had recently become a patient of the practice, and the three discussed her problems — personal, financial, logistical — for nearly 45 minutes. At one point, Dr. Haymon asked why Ms. Schock had stopped taking her diabetes medication. The pills, Ms. Schock said, were too big, and they stuck in her throat.

We can talk to the pharmacist," Dr. Haymon said, gesturing for Ms. Barrow to add that to her list of follow-up actions. Ms. Barrow did and was able to find a version of the drug in a smaller size.

That kind of small change can make a big difference in a patient's health — what good is the perfect drug if the patient can't swallow it? — but the extra-mile work it took to get there can be a challenge for the typical primary care practice in the United States. Harried by busy schedules and paid on a piecework model, many doctors rush from visit to visit, avoid phone calls and emails that don't generate payments, and often fail to address the complex social issues that hamper people's health.

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