While our colleague Paul Testa was going through the latest numbers on the incredibly shrinking primary care work force, we were over at the Health Affairs session listening to Robert Berenson of the Urban Institute talk about how to build the Medical Home, which is in some ways a souped up 21st century version of primary care.
Bob (who has guest blogged for us in the past) said a lot of docs don't like primary care in our current world because of what he called the hamster syndrome. They feel like they are hamsters spinning on wheels in a cage, unable to keep up, unable to move ahead. The medical home is supposed to restore primary care's rightful place in the healthcare universe, while as Berenson wrote in the current issue of Health Affairs, "providing a source of confidence, advocacy, and coordination for patients as they encounter the disconnected parts and often daunting complexity of the health care system." Advocates of medical homes stress their importance in managing chronic diseases. Naturally, to make them work, we're going to have to pay primary care providers better and differently if we want care coordination and oversight to replace piecemeal, pay-for-procedure medicine.