Weight a Barrier to Thorough Medical Care?

By Steve Barrett
Sunday, January 1, 2017

Almost half of the women who responded to a GfK KnowledgePanel survey said they had canceled or put off a medical appointment so they could first lose weight.

The online survey also found that while almost three in four women had at least one risk factor for heart disease, only one in six said her physician had advised her of her elevated risk. In many cases, physicians did not follow medical guidelines for recommendations to people with heart disease risk factors. Often, women were simply urged to lose weight.

Despite efforts by advocacy groups, little progress is being made in enhancing women’s awareness of heart-related issues, lead author C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC, Medical Director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said in a news release by the American College of Cardiology regarding the study. The findings may indicate an emphasis on weight reduction is a barrier to appropriate care.

“If women don’t think they’re going to get heart disease and they’re being told by society and their doctors that everything would be fine if they just lost weight, that explains the paradox of why women aren’t going in for the recommended heart checks,” Dr. Bairey Merz says. “Who wants to be told to lose weight?”

An earlier survey, in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, found only 54 percent of women realized heart disease was the leading cause of death among women.

Report Finds Hospital Employment Trend Continuing

Physicians are still gravitating toward hospital employment.

From July 2012 to July 2015, the number of U.S. physicians employed by hospitals rose to 141,000, according to a report released in late 2016 by the Physicians Advocacy Institute and Avalere Health. That 46,000-physician increase, from 95,000 in 2012, underscores the trend of increasing hospital acquisitions of physician practices, according to the study.

Growth in physician employment by hospitals occurred across all regions of the United States and during each of the six-month periods the study evaluated.

Some other findings:

  • At the end of the three-year period, almost two in five physicians were hospital-employed, compared with about one in four who were hospital-employed at the beginning of the study.
  • Ownership of physician practices by hospitals or health systems grew 86 percent over the course of the study.
  • By the end of the study period, physician employment by hospitals was greatest in the Midwest, at 49 percent, followed by the Northeast (42 percent), the West (34 percent), the South (33 percent), and Alaska and Hawaii (27 percent).

Reimbursement issues and overhead are the concerns that physicians cite most often about independent practice, according to a 2015 study by management consulting company Accenture.