Primary Care Physicians' Links to Other Physicians Through Medicare Patients: The Scope of Care Coordination

Feb. 17, 2009
Annals of Internal Medicine , Vol. 150, No. 4
Hoangmai H. Pham, Ann S. O'Malley, Peter B. Bach, Deborah Schrag

Illustrating the formidable task of coordinating care, a typical primary care physician who treats elderly Medicare patients must coordinate care with 229 other physicians working in 117 different practices, according to this study by researchers at HSC, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Policy makers and insurers are searching for strategies to improve care coordination and reinvigorate primary care as a critical component of reforming the U.S. health care system. As Medicare and private health plans experiment with extra payments to primary care physicians to coordinate care—for example through medical homes—the study findings suggest that substantial delivery system reforms may be needed to make such models work.

This article is available at the Annals of Internal Medicine Web site by clicking here. (Free access.)

An editorial written in response to this article is also available by clicking here. (Free access.)