Converting a teaching hospital medical clinic to a group practice: patients vote with their feet.
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Converting a teaching hospital medical clinic to a group practice: patients vote with their feet.

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      Public Health Rep
    • Description:
      Traditional general medical clinics (GMCs) have been criticized as providing less than optimal primary care while losing money for the sponsoring teaching hospital. In addition, the GMC has become less attractive as a site for training house staff. In response, a number of teaching hospitals have sponsored the development of a primary care group practice as a more efficient alternative to the GMC. Under the new model, certain measures of patient care frequently improve, house staff receive better training, and the hospital may be able to trim financial losses. While the literature contains numerous descriptions of such conversions, very little information is available about the compliance of patients who are transferred to the new model with relatively little preparation or choice. Institutions that convert their GMCs may do so to attract new clientele. But they have a responsibility to their long-time patients and certainly should address the question of whom they expect to transfer successfully and what the dropout rate will be. New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital completed conversion of its GMC to a primary care group practice in 1983. A sampling of patients taken before the conversion, then followed up 6 months latter, revealed that 82 percent of the former GMC patients were successfully referred to the new model. Patients given specific appointments rather than instructions to call for their own appointment had a better "show" rate. Noncompliers were more likely to be female, Medicaid-covered, 46-65 years old, and living outside the hospital's immediate service area. Our data suggest that when hospitals close a GMC and transfer patients to a hospital sponsored alternative, they can expect to refer most patients successfully.
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