New wave of patients expected in clinics

New wave of patients expected in clinics
Tennessee News Service
Memphis – As more aspects of the new health reform law kick in, a new wave of patients is expected to turn up at the nation’s clinics. That’s what happened when Massachusetts enacted universal health care in 2006. People flocked to doctors’ offices seeking care for problems that had gone untreated due to a lack of coverage.
Christ Community Health Systems CEO Burt Waller, Memphis, says coping with the demand will likely mean that doctors will function as team leaders, with minor problems handled by other highly trained health professionals.
“I think the key to the future will more reliance on what we call ‘mid-level practitioners’ – that would specifically be nurse practitioners and physician assistants.”
Waller says some patients might be miles away from a specialist, but high-speed Internet connections are allowing doctors to see patients without spending hours on the road.
“We’re already seeing, here in Tennessee through the network of community health centers that exist, some early stages of using tele-health technology, so that a patient in a remote area can be seen by a specialist in one of the urban settings.”
Tennessee’s community health centers are nonprofit, locally operated providers of primary and preventive care and other medical services.
America’s 8,000 community health center sites serve more than 20 million people, including more than 300,000 Tennesseans.
Funding for these clinics will increase under the recently passed Health Care Reform Act, and medical students will be encouraged to enter general practice instead of specialization.

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