“This is time-consuming and challenging work,” said Dr. Matthew J. Press, an assistant professor of health care policy at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. In a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine, he described his experience coordinating care for a 70-year-old man with bile duct cancer in the liver.
Over 80 days, Dr. Press said, 10 doctors helped care for the man, who had five procedures and 11 office visits before a surgeon removed his tumor. Dr. Press, the patient’s primary care doctor, communicated 40 times with the other clinicians and 12 times with the patient or his wife.
This is a task that nurses have been doing for many years, under titles such as “RN Patient Advocate” and “RN Care Coordinator”, and being paid well to do so in the private sector. The new law also states that primary care providers of Medicare recipients be available 24/7 365.
With the tidal wave of baby boomers looming, chronic illnesses such as depression could break the back of the Medicare system, and possibly the Affordable Care Act, if medical care for these high-dollar illnesses isn’t ramped up. It will be interesting to see how this new legislation unfolds.