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Community health centers compare well with private practices, Stanford researcher finds
Date:7/9/2012

community health center physicians performed as well as their private practice colleagues in 13 of the 18 measures. For the remaining five measures use of ACE inhibitors for congestive heart failure, use of beta blockers, use of inhaled corticosteroids for adult asthmatics, blood pressure screening and avoidance of electrocardiograms in low-risk patients the community physicians followed recommendations a higher percent of the time.

Given that patients at community health centers have more health and socioeconomic challenges and therefore take up more physician time, said Stafford, "The fact that community health centers look better is perhaps surprising."

"On the other hand, having worked in community health centers, I can see how it makes sense," he added. "These are centers where physicians are not as profit-driven and many have incentives more in line with providing quality care."

Stafford added that the government has provided the centers with technology that helps manage patient care, which may explain their superior performance. And they are generally larger than private practices: "Having a number of colleagues helps you develop better practices. In a solo practice, you have rare opportunities to debate the best way to practice medicine."

When the researchers adjusted the data so that the patients' characteristics were statistically equal, the community health center physicians performed better on three additional measures: aspirin for congestive heart failure, statins for congestive heart failure, and avoidance of benzodiazepine, which has serious long-term side effects, for depression. (The statistical adjustment did not alter the balance in the other previous measures, and if anything, the magnitude of the difference increased in favor of the community physicians.)


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Contact: Susan Ipaktchian
susani@stanford.edu
650-725-5375
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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