Primary care physicians around the world struggle to coordinate patient care, according to a new survey from the Commonwealth Fund. But out of the 10 countries surveyed, doctors from the United States appear to be having some of the most trouble connecting the dots, especially when it comes to managing patients with multiple chronic conditions.
This research, published in Health Affairs, emerges at a time when care coordination matters more than ever to U.S. providers' bottom lines amid a government and insurer push toward value-based care. Meanwhile, baby boomers are aging and chronic conditions continue to plague Americans of all ages, noted an article from Medscape.
With these stakes in mind, the following findings paint a troubling picture for U.S. primary care:
- Seventy-six percent of U.S. physicians said they were well prepared to care for patients with multiple conditions, while nearly one in four said they were not ready.
- Just 16 percent of said they were ready to take on patients with severe mental health problems or substance use–related issues. Drug-use disorders alone afflict nearly 10 percent of Americans during some point in their lives, FiercePracticeManagement reported recently.
- Only 39 percent of U.S. primary care providers offer after-hours physician or nurse access, compared to more than 80 percent in Germany and the United Kingdom.
- Roughly 30 percent of U.S. physicians said they always received notification when a patient was seen in the emergency department or discharged from the hospital.
Although the United States fared better than several other countries in offering patients electronic access to physicians--a movement largely driven by government incentives--more must be done to help primary care providers on the front lines, David Blumenthal, M.D., president of The Commonwealth Fund, told Forbes. Initiatives created by the Affordable Care Act and commercial payers such as accountable care organizations and medical homes are helping, he added, "but it will need to be applied consistently over a long period of time."