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Greater Primary Care Physician Involvement Leads To Less Costly End-Of-Life Care

Update Date: Jan 10, 2017 09:10 AM EST
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The role of a primary care physician in people's lives is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A recent study finds that greater involvement of a primary care physician leads to less costly end-of-life care. This highlights the growing importance of the role of a primary care physician in the people's lives.

The study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, analyzed the 2010 Medicare Part B claims data. The data was from 306 U.S hospital reference regions that account for 1,107,702 beneficiaries who died with or from a chronic disease.

The researchers found out that the involvement of a primary care physician during the last six months of life of a person experienced less time admitted in an intensive care unit. Greater involvement of a primary care physician also lessened the likelihood of the person to be under more than ten other physicians. This also leads to less costly end-of-life care.

The study, lead by Claire K. Ankuda, also found that hospital reference regions with greater primary care physician involvement had lower Medicare spending during the last two years of life. That is $3,870 less compared to the usual cost during the last two years of life.

There were also fewer days admitted in an intensive care unit and less enrollment for hospice care. Frequent visits with a primary care physician also lead to fewer hospital visits thus leading to lower costs and lower chances of in-hospital death.

According to the researchers, understanding and optimizing the role of primary care physicians especially during end-of-life is critical to not only improve care for the dying but also to reduce the most often, costly care.

The study also highlights that primary care physicians are the main physicians for most hospital reference regions in the country. The greater the involvement of a primary care physician in the last days of life, the lower the intensity and cost.

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