Researchers find increasing the number of family physicians reduces hospital readmissions

May 3, 2011

Boston- Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center have found that by adding one family physician per 1,000, or 100 per 100,000, could reduce hospital readmission costs by $579 million per year, or 83 percent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) target. These findings currently appear on the website of the "Robert Graham Center," a primary care think tank.

Growth of has fallen over the last decade due to payment and other strong incentives for subspecialization, and lack of accountability of teaching hospitals for producing the physicians the country needs.

The Patient Protection and Act (ACA) seeks to improve healthcare quality and reduce costs. One provision targets a decrease in hospital readmissions to save $710 million annually. It is believed that timely management of fragile patients in primary care after discharge may reduce readmission.

The researchers used data from the Hospital Compare database, which included readmission rates for pneumonia, and , for 4,459 hospitals as well as the Area Source File that contains data for physicians per population at the county level. Combined, readmissions for pneumonia, heart attack and heart failure in 2005 accounted for 15.7 percent of all readmissions and numbered 74,419, 20,866 and 90,273, respectively; corresponding Medicare expenditures were $533, $136 and $590 million, respectively.

"Using these data, we found that 30-day readmission rates for all three diagnoses decrease as the number of family physicians increases," said senior author Brian Jack, MD, an associate professor and vice chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Family Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center. "Conversely, increased numbers of physicians in all other major specialties, including general internal medicine, is associated with increased risk of readmission," he added.

According to Jack this work demonstrates tremendous cost savings from an adequate family physician work force.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.