Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Physicians: U.S. Health Care System Is Broken

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Physicians: U.S. Health Care System Is Broken

Article excerpt

Western Pennsylvania's attention these days may be on consent decrees and in-network access to health care, but three physicians and the head of a local physicians' group reminded major Pittsburgh employers Thursday that there's plenty to worry about on the national scene, too.

"We're on an unsustainable course," said Jeremy Bonfini, CEO of the Allegheny County Medical Society.

Mr. Bonfini was referring to reports that 60 to 70% of the average physician's time is spent on administrative paperwork instead of hands-on care of patients - a claims-clogged process that is wasteful and expensive in both dollars and human lives.

Physicians as a group, he said, have twice the national average suicide rate, which he tied in part to their frustration at the lack of control they have over their interaction with patients.

Family physician Kirsten Lin, another panelist at Thursday's Pittsburgh Business Group on Health forum at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, said she personally knows of six physicians who have taken their own lives.

The American health care system historically has rewarded volume - treating more patients and filing more claims to make more money. Dr. Lin said she once had a job in which she had to see 25-30 patients a day, a pace that she believes made her unable to provide good care.

That, in turn, prompted her to co-found Direct Care Physicians of Pittsburgh, a multi-specialty group of local doctors who contract directly with patients. Instead of relying on health insurance, the patients pay a monthly or annual fee.

By eliminating that middle step, she said, "I'm providing a higher level of care than I was before and it's less expensive" because the office doesn't have to spend time filing claims or getting pre-authorizations.

The patient saves as well, said physician Zane Gates. Dr. …

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