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In an Oregon experiment, doctors and therapists work as a team

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Medicaid patients in Orgeon can see different kind of doctors in one visit. The hope is that the team approach will deliver better care at less cost to the state, Kaiser Health News reports. 

One place this works well is during primary care visits when patients report stomach aches or migraines that can stem from mental rather then physical sources. In the past, a patient might be referred to a psychologist, but never go because of the perceived stigma. Or the physician might treat the physical sympton, only to find it never improves.

So a clinic in Bend, OR is putting the psychologist in the primary doc's office. Many cases involve children with upset stomachs because they're being bullied in school or their parents are divorcing. A typical treatment for them would be a short-term intervention to help parents and children deal with the situation.  

Having a psychologist in the clinic removes a burden for the primary care doctor, who might otherwise have to tell the client, "I don't know what's going on with you."

For the psychologist, talking to a patient for 20 minutes instead of setting up a series of weekly visits is a paradigm shift, too, that suits some better than others.  

According to KHN, the  annual cost of care dropped from an average of about $7,650 per patient per year to about $6,800 per patent per year in the Bend clinic. 

A long-term study is planned to see if the savings are real. Read the story.

 

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