BALTIMORE, Jan. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new book by a nationally recognized physician and health care policy expert highlights the unsustainability of America's primary care model and argues that it is a crisis which leads to unnecessary costs and specialist visits. "Listening is 80 percent of many diagnoses," says Stephen C. Schimpff, M.D., former Chief Executive Officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center. "Examining is another 10 percent and tests are maybe 10 percent. The need is just to listen."
In Fixing the Primary Care Crisis: Reclaiming the Patient-Physician Relationship and Returning Healthcare Decisions to You and Your Doctor, Dr. Schimpff calls for restructuring America's health care system, defining the primary care crisis as a combination of a shortage in the number of primary care physicians (PCPs), the lack of time physicians have available to dedicate to each patient and inadequate reimbursements.
"I have always felt that primary care was the backbone of the American health care system," says Dr. Schimpff. "What has become apparent to me over the last three years is that primary care physicians who are in private practice are basically in a non-sustainable business model. They can't make it work because their overhead costs rise faster than insurance reimbursements increase, so they try to see an ever-increasing daily load of patients to cover their costs."
As a result, Dr. Schimpff says, physicians typically receive only about 10 minutes of face-time with their patients, and patients with substantial problems are commonly referred to specialists. This leads to unnecessary costs and frustrations as patients go from specialist to specialist, and PCPs are seen as less reliable and credible. "If the physician had time they could often figure out the problems themselves with just a little bit more listening," says Dr. Schimpff. "Most primary care physicians find they do not have enough time for care coordination or for more than the basics of preventive care and they do not have the time to listen and think."
"Time, or the lack of it, is the single biggest issue facing PCPs in our health care system," Dr. Schimpff says. "It means quality of care is less than it should be, costs are too high and the opportunity for true healing is remote. It is impossible to deliver high quality care in a 10-15 minute visit when the patient has three to five chronic illnesses, is taking multiple prescription medications, and presents his PCP with a new symptom."
"Health care delivery must be restructured now so that everyone can obtain quality, compassionate and cost effective care," Dr. Schimpff says. "This will require both a change in how primary care is delivered and how it is purchased."
In his fifth decade as a physician, educator, cancer/infectious disease researcher, academic medical center executive and author, Dr. Schimpff is one of the world's foremost experts on health care. A professor of medicine and a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, College Park, Dr. Schimpff is also a senior advisor to Sage Growth Partners and is internationally recognized for his cancer/infectious disease research at the University of Maryland and the National Cancer Institute's Baltimore Cancer Research Center, now known as the UM Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. He has published more than 200 scientific articles on cancer/infectious diseases and healthcare and is board certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases, and medical oncology.
Dr. Schimpff is a 1963 graduate of Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Scholar.He obtained his M.D. degree in 1967 from Yale Medical School, where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national honor medical society.
Economist Anirban Basu, CEO of Baltimore-based Sage Consulting, authors the foreword for Fixing the Primary Care Crisis. "Dr. Schimpff lays out a plan that both administrator and care deliverer can follow," Basu writes. "His is a new paradigm – one that values the experiences of both patient and provider while rationalizing the use of scarce resources."
Robert Alpern, M.D., Dean of the Yale School of Medicine, says of the book, "Steve Schimpff has written an outstanding treatise describing how misdirected attempts to save money have underfunded primary care resulting in lower quality health care, an increasing shortage of primary care physicians and an increase in the cost of health care. He shows how a change in the healthcare paradigm can lead to better care at lower cost that is more rewarding to patient and physician."
Contact: Stephen C. Schimpff, M.D.
SOURCE University of Maryland Medical Center