Physicians Working Longer Hours to Augment Compensation, Increase Patient Accessibility

It’s not easy being a physician in these hard times.  Insurance reimbursements have been falling for some time, a situation that is unlikely to change for the better very soon.  Thanks to the recession and the growing number of people who are losing healthcare insurance along with their jobs, patient visits to physicians have leveled off and even declined.open-for-business-courtesy-symlinked-at-flickr-cc

Maywood, IL-based Loyola University Health Center is taking a proactive approach to this dilemma by extending the hours its outpatient clinics in Chicago’s south and west suburbs are open for business.  Loyola’s move to increase patient accessibility is paying off.  In March, clinic visits rose 11 percent to 5,332 after 250 physicians opted to work longer hours.  Clinic visits are up an average of 1,100 each week.

“People really don’t want to leave their jobs and come to our offices (during their work hours)”, said Dr. Paul Whelton, chief executive of Loyola University Health System, parent of the medical center.  “Physicians are making themselves more available.  We need to be more user-friendly.  Our volumes are up and we are gaining market share.”  Some clinics even added Saturday hours for their patients’ convenience.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, Loyola’s extended clinic hours are part of a national trend.  Of members surveyed, 42.4 percent of physicians are providing extended office hours.

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