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Coding hampers physician-patient communications that enhance care

Med students need better communication skills, and this training program in Massachusetts shows why: 1. “Studies have shown that patients who have [substantive] conversations with clinicians are...more likely to receive care and experience better quality of life.” 2. “With a national shortage of [physicians] to care for an aging population, it is mandatory to find innovative solutions to train all physicians in effective high-quality communication for seriously ill patients.” So why don't physicians devote time to these types of conversations? And why do we have such a shortage of physicians for aged patients? The simple answer is that the billing and coding system does not incentivize these conversations. It is basic economics. My book, The Journey’s End, provides a detailed analysis of these issues, along with pragmatic solutions to remedy them.

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