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A stronger doctor-patient relationship for the costliest patients
Date:7/18/2012

Patients who are frequently hospitalized account for a disproportionate amount of health care spending in the United States. Working with a $6.1 million grant, a new University of Chicago Medicine program will test whether an updated version of the traditional general practitioner can reduce spending while also improving care for these patients.

Under the new model, funded by a Health Care Innovation Award from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, multidisciplinary teams led by a comprehensive care physician (CCP) will care for patients in both outpatient and inpatient settings. By improving the continuity of an individual's care after a hospital stay and strengthening the bond between doctor and patient, the model hopes to provide better care at lower cost.

"Our goal will be to really understand patients' needs so that we can give them the care that they need," said lead investigator David Meltzer, MD, PhD, associate professor and chief of the Section of Hospital Medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine. "That should be better for them, and should ultimately be less costly for the health care system and produce better outcomes."

The model is built upon 15 years of research by Meltzer and colleagues on the changing medical work force in the United States. Health care providers increasingly rely on specialized physicians known as hospitalists to care for inpatients, while primary care doctors are less likely to see their patients while they are hospitalized. Though Meltzer found that this rearrangement has produced modest benefits in terms of health outcomes and reduced spending, it also has created unintended rifts in a patient's care.

"A whole series of trends have emerged over time that has made the traditional continuity in the doctor-patient relationship between the outpatient and inpatient setting more difficult," Meltzer said. "It's not that doctors don't understand this continuity is important or don't
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Contact: Robert Mitchum
robert.mitchum@uchospitals.edu
773-795-5227
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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