Strengthening the Patient-Doctor Relationship Can Improve Patient Health and Reduce Costs, Report Says

Bernadette Loftus, MD

The challenges of primary care doctors in finding time to connect with their patients is the focus of an in-depth feature in the New York Times Magazine’s special Health Issue that published this week. In an article, “Trying to Put a Value on the Doctor-Patient Relationship,” the magazine focuses on a study by economist David Meltzer, a primary care physician at the University of Chicago, who believes increased time between an internist and patient can reduce time spent in hospitals and save costs for health organizations in the long run.

The article mentions several organizations that piloted Dr. Meltzer’s experiment of having a single personal physician managing a modest patient load of approximately 200 patients, including during hospitalization, and nights and weekends. Results showed higher patient satisfaction and reduced emergency room visits.

To measure the program’s effectiveness in a large integrated health care system, Kaiser Permanente and the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group (MAPMG) participated in a similar pilot in 2015 that reduced emergency room visits by 80 percent. The pilot was subsequently expanded.

Bernadette Loftus, MD, MAPMG’s associate executive director and executive in charge, is quoted in the article.

To read the complete story, visit the New York Times’ site (subscription may be required).