Primary care was a hot topic in the news this week as the ongoing shortage of doctors, particularly in underserved areas, was addressed in part by the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). But will these programs help tackle the underlying forces driving the short-staffing of the primary care workforce?
Here’s what we’re reading:
PHYSICIANS SCARCE IN SOME CITIES – America’s aging and growing population has undoubtedly increased the demand for primary care but in certain areas the situation is dire. Not enough people are choosing primary care and it’s difficult to recruit existing physicians to practice in rural areas. Over 58 million Americans reside in geographic areas that are experiencing primary care shortages and with the linkage between understaffed facilities and higher medical errors and costs — patients are paying the price.
HHS TO INCREASE GRANTS, TRAINING – In response, the HRSA announced on Wednesday that more than $149 million in grants would be distributed to 12 workforce programs intent on training the newest ranks of primary care providers across the US, with the aim of helping to prepare a more diverse workforce that could serve the communities in need. The largest recipient was Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students, which helps health professions schools provide scholarships to disadvantaged students in healthcare.
STUDY SHOWS LINK BETWEEN EHRs AND HIGHER REIMBURSEMENTS – A new article in Medical Care Research and Review discovered that electronic health records can increase a provider’s charge capture, leading to higher reimbursement. The increase in reimbursements is likely attributable to improved documentation, forced completions of records and reduced coding errors, according to the researchers.
LOBBYISTS LOVE MACRA – The number of groups that lobbied MACRA doubled in the second quarter. 77 organizations reported lobbying the issue, up from 38 groups in the first quarter. A wide range of associations, from the AARP and Consumers Union to physicians groups and hospital systems, like Johns Hopkins and the Marshfield Clinic, payed lobby firms to put in their two cents.
DOCTORS’ TECH NIGHTMARES – Fast Company recently explored the exhaustive day-to-days of physicians that use ill-conceived and poorly designed electronic medical records. The biggest challenge for doctors according to the article was sharing vital patient information from one hospital to another. However, there was one doctor, Dr. Jordan Shlain, that provided a more optimistic account of EMRs. Maybe it’s because he uses Elation?
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