Primary Care

The Providence Center has received a $1.7 million dollar federal grant to try to help people with mental health problems avoid the emergency room.  The program could help hospitals, and the state, slash some of the most expensive medical bills.      

Ryan T. Conaty / RIPR

Chris Koller, Rhode Island’s first commissioner of health insurance, spent his last day in office today. Before he heads to New York City to take over as president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, he stopped by our studios to reflect on his time in office here.

The General Assembly created Koller’s position – a first in the nation, too – in the mid-2000s to help address growing concern over the cost of health insurance and how insurers were paying health care providers.

Today is the last day on the job for Rhode Island’s –and the nation’s—first commissioner of health insurance. Chris Koller is leaving the position to take the helm of a foundation in New York City. He leaves behind some significant changes in the health insurance marketplace.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island

The Lifespan hospital system’s recent acquisition of Gateway, a mental health care network, may be a sign of more to come. But it could be too soon to tell what it means for a patient’s pocketbook.

Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine / Quinnipiac University

This fall the new medical school at Connecticut's Quinnipiac University welcomes its first class of incoming students. And the school is apparently focused on turning out a particular kind of doctor. From their web site:

Flo Jonic / RIPR

How many hospital beds does Rhode Island really need?

That’s one question being considered in a new report from a state health care planning council. It comes at a time when a number of hospitals in the state are either up for sale, looking at new partnerships or struggling financially.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joined Elisabeth Harrison in the studio to talk about the health of the state’s hospitals and some of the surprising findings from this report.

Pi., Leiden, Holland / Wikimedia Commons

This Friday at 1:00 pm EDT, more than 17,000 U.S. medical school seniors and another 16,000 other applicants (internationals, etc.) find out where they'll train as residents for the next several years of their lives.

Brown University's medical school plans to launch a new program for medical students who want to focus on primary care. The program also aims to boost the number of primary care doctors in Rhode Island.

Interesting story from the American Medical Association’s news wire today about the growing number of medical students who are opting to pursue careers in family medicine. Students matched with family medicine residencies are up 14%this year from 2008, the writer reports (based on information from the national residency matching program).

Researchers writing in Academic Medicine, the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, think so. Or rather, after crunching the numbers – medical school debt load to potential income and expenses – they think medical students who decide to go into primary care as a specialty will be able to pay off their school debt on a primary care doctor’s salary.

But…

A new study in the Annals of Family Medicine projects the country will need about 52,000 more primary care doctors by 2025. The study’s authors calculated that we currently have about 206,000.They based their projections on the number of patients primary care docs currently see in office visits per year, and how many might be expected based on how much our population is set to grow, how much more an aging population will need primary care, and how many people will have access to a primary care doctor for the first time as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Being new in town, I needed to find a primary care doctor for my daughter, who is almost 11 years old. I used my health insurance’s web site to find a list of providers. Every one I called said they weren’t taking new patients. I called pediatric specialists, family doctors. I called offices close to home, an hour away, and everywhere in between…to no avail.

Finally I found a walk-in clinic about an hour away that could at least update her immunizations and sign some paperwork for the new school she’ll attend at the end of August.

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