24-hour primary care clinics would improve continuity of care
J. Stefan Walker, M.D., from Corpus Christi Medical Associates in Texas, discusses the need for 24-hour primary care clinics in the current era, when many specialists see patients during nights and on weekends.
Walker notes that the Triple Aim of health care, which focuses on higher quality of care, reduced cost of care, and expanded access to care remains mostly unrealized, and reports that the elements of personal continuity of care and authentic commitment between the physician and patient could be achieved in the context of a 24-hour clinic. One practice arrangement suggests that seven to 15 doctors work rotating shifts in a clinic they own and operate 24/7, 365 days a year. This model would normalize the personal doctor-patient commitment and could offer care for multiple primary care payment models simultaneously. Payers would save money by eliminating unnecessary emergency department visits and hospitalization, and physicians would be able to deliver continuity care as a team, addressing patient needs in real time.
"In stark contrast with the tenuous and frustrating experience in many small practices today, the 24-hour primary care clinic would offer a way for family physicians to achieve success on par with or exceeding that of other contemporary models of care, while simultaneously preserving the autonomy so important to the doctor-patient relationship," Walker writes.
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