Looking for a Medicare Doctor? New Ratings Can Help

Medicare patients have new help in picking a doctor, the federal government recently announced. Quality ratings for medical practices have been added to Medicare’s Physician Compare website, a national list of physicians and other health care providers who accept Medicare. “Patients and their families need facts to help them in making important decisions about health care, and choosing the right physician is one of the most important decisions they face,” says Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare …

The Maverick Doctor Who Helped to Invent Family Medicine

In the late 1950s, a young physician named Gene Farley was working as a small-town doctor in rural New York state when he came to the realization that what he had learned in medical school was all wrong. >> Sign up for the AARP Leisure Newsletter Farley, who died on Nov. 8 at age 86 in Wisconsin, explained in a 1992 oral history interview that his change in thinking came about as he was treating two teenage boys from different families …

More Doctors Accepting New Medicare Patients

It’s getting easier – not more difficult – to find doctors who take Medicare, according to a new study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Doctors have long complained about Medicare’s payment caps and the instability of a reimbursement system that forces cuts each year unless Congress intervenes to prevent them. Nonetheless, the HHS study says that the number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients is actually higher than the number taking new private insurance patients, according to …

Should Doctors Ask If You Own a Gun?

No one questions when a doctor asks if an older, cognitively impaired patient is still driving, and urges family members to take away the car keys for the safety of the patient and everyone else. So why is it any different for a doctor to ask if a patient with similar problems has guns at home that could endanger him or others? There is no difference — it’s simply the doctor’s role in contributing to patient and public safety, argues …

Is Your Doctor a 10? Medicare Site Takes Next Step Toward Ranking Providers

By Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News Medicare Thursday added new features to its Physician Compare website as it prepares to start including quality data on thousands of doctors. The federal health care law requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to publish performance data on doctors, including how patients rate them, how well the physicians’ medical interventions succeed and how well they follow clinical guidelines for basic care. The site has been up since 2010, but contained only basic …

We Need More Nurses to Provide Primary Care

A recent survey of doctors and nurses has put the spotlight on a topic that is becoming more important every day — the shortage of primary care providers and the role for nurses in fixing it. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the doctors and nurses broadly agreed that, “Nurse practitioners should be able to practice to the full extent of their education and training.” Unfortunately, they held very different views on just what that …