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Primary Care for Women Starts with OB-GYN

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, July 31, 2014

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, a network of three hospitals and 30 clinics, has intentionally avoided lumping women's health services together under one department and puts its focus on population health.

With all the attention primary care physicians get—their declining numbers amid an increased demand to cope with more insured patients and their leadership needed to accommodate the rise of patient-center medical homes—it is easy to overlook that obstetrician-gynecologists are facing similar pressures while providing similar care.

Like primary care providers, ob-gyn physician numbers are also falling. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecology estimates a shortage of 9,000 ob-gyns by 2030. The declining numbers, says ACOG, are due, in part, to physicians retiring and to the cap on federally funded residency slots.

And just as primary care providers who are leading care teams, ob-gyns are stepping up as leaders to coordinate care for women. In some cases, the approach is trumping the care model that places women's health under one roof.

For example, Milwaukee-based Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, a network of three hospitals, including an academic medical center and 30 clinics, has intentionally avoided lumping women's health services together under one department.

"We're focused on population health," says JoAnne Hill, MD, JoAnne Hill, MD, medical director of care management and patient experience for Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin's Community Physicians. "We're not doing something specifically for women. Our focus is to risk-stratify populations to deliver the most appropriate care."

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