Chronic-Care Patients: Easing the Burden on Physicians

Blog | October 31, 2015 | Billing and Collections, Coding, Compliance, Revenue Cycle Management

By Michelle McKamy

Over the next ten years, it is predicted that chronic diseases, such as heart disease, asthma, cancer, and diabetes, will affect an estimated 164 million Americans — nearly half (49 percent) of the population.
Physicians who regularly treat these typically older, chronic-care patients say their work is rewarding. They appreciate having the challenge of treating complex conditions and the opportunity to work as a team with specialists to collaboratively manage a patient’s conditions. At the core of their work is being able to help patients who are truly in need.

Yet, there are also many challenges. Writing last summer in the New England Journal of Medicine, Matthew Press, an internist at Cornell Medical College, likened coordinating patient care to serving as a quarterback. Because many chronic-care patients can have several other physicians, honing in on a comprehensive care plan may require dozens of emails and phone calls —for one patient alone. That’s time that, unfortunately, many physicians do not have. According to a 2014 survey by The Physicians Foundation, 81 percent of physicians described themselves as being either over-extended or at full capacity, while only 19 percent indicated that they had time to see more patients. Carving out the time to see patients continues to be a challenge for doctors overall.
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