REPORT: Office Visits by Patients With Diabetes Rising Rapidly in United States

Office visits in the United States for diabetes rose 20% from 2005 to 2010, with the largest increase in adults in their mid-20s to mid-40s, according to a new data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Nearly 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, putting them at risk for other chronic conditions, such as heart disease, eye disease, and stroke, Jill J. Ashman, PhD, and colleagues from the NCHS note in the brief.

On an annual basis, the cost of diabetes in the United States approaches $245 billion, and patients with diabetes have medical expenditures 2.3 times those of patients without diabetes.

The researchers analyzed recent trends in office visits by patients with diabetes using the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), a nationally representative survey of visits to nonfederal office-based physicians (excluding anesthesiologists, radiologists, and pathologists).

They found that office-based physician visits by patients with diabetes rose from 94.4 million in 2005 to 113.3 million in 2010 (a 20% increase). Visits by patients with diabetes made up about 11% of all office-based physician visits in 2010.

The number of office visits increased during the study period for all age groups except for those younger than 25 years. The largest percentage increase (34%) occurred in people in the 25- to 44-year age range.

However, the volume of visits was higher for older adults; individuals aged 65 and older made 53.7 million visits in 2010 compared with 2.6 million visits made by those younger than 25.

The researchers did not see any marked change in the rate of office visits by patients with diabetes in any age group during the study period. The highest rate in 2010 was among those aged 65 and older (1380 visits per 1000 persons) and lowest in those younger than 25 (20 visits per 1000).

“Diabetes is not the only health concern for the majority of patients who have it, with 87% of visits being made by patients who have additional chronic conditions,” Dr. Ashman and colleagues say.

Regardless of age, they found that patients with diabetes use “extensive health resources,” making frequent trips to the doctor and often receiving multiple prescriptions.

One of the federal Healthy People 2020 goals is to reduce the disease and economic burden of diabetes. “Continuing to examine office-based physician visits by patients with diabetes is especially important given changes in standards of care that may influence such visits,” Dr. Ashman and colleagues say.

Source: Medscape

What is driving a physician shortage and how can it be stopped?

As its name insists, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is supposed to give more American access to reasonably-price healthcare, but this affordability would prove fruitless if the number of primary care physicians in the United States continues to decrease.

Recent findings from the likes of SERMO, the largest online community of physicians, show that amongst all provider specialties family and internal medicine are two of three unhappiest groups of physicians, 62 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Only obstetricians and gynecologists come in lower at 59 percent. For internists and family physicians, dissatisfaction with lifestyle was a common factor leading many to rethink their choice of specialty, 25 and 23 percent, respectively.

“These are the doctors on the front lines in medicine who are seeing the increase pressure and in particular now with the ACA in play and a higher stream of patients coming in,” SERMO CEO Peter Kirk tells EHRIntelligence.com. “It is still a challenging work environment and they are at the lower end of the pay scale. Those are the ones looking to change whereas those on the higher end of the pay scale — orthopedists, physiatrists, oncologists, etc. — are happiest with their professions.”

Although these physicians admit to dissatisfaction with their choice of specialty, it does not mean that they are leaving it for another. So then why is this problematic? The answer to that question is seen in the choices made by the next waves of physicians, residents, who are opting more lucrative and less stressful professional positions.

“Based on some of the conversations on the site, you can build a sense of how much there is a drive toward specialty right off,” Kirk explains. “Having your own private practice as a primary care physician is not the dream anymore. It doesn’t pay the bills. There’s too much complexity, too much involved in running a business. This is driving residents into searching for the best-paid specialties in order to help pay of their debt and have a nice head start moving forward.”

Here lies the basis on predictions that physician shortages are only a matter of time. The ACA and increase of insured Americans should only serve to exacerbate the stresses associated with primary care.

“There will not be enough real doctors at the front lines of primary care to handle the workload, especially with the ACA adding 30 million additional patients to the system,” maintains SERMO’s CEO. “More pressure and more of the primary care are being assigned to non-physicians. The NPs and PAs are likely to do more of the work. That’s going to play out over the next five to ten years.”

A solution to the problem?

The physician shortage problem is real, but what can be done about it? Both the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and American Medical Association (AMA) believe the solution to be found in graduate medical education.
Crediting medical schools for increasing enrollments and students for responding with an increasing number of applications, the AAMC is placing the onus on lawmakers:

Now Congress must do its part by lifting the cap on the number of federally supported residency training positions. Lawmakers have responded with proposals in the House and Senate to increase the number of residency positions. But they must act now in order to ensure that there are enough physicians for our growing and aging population.

Meanwhile, the AMA has developed a new policy to encourage state and federal legislators and private payers help fund residents in training with an emphasis on promoting the teaching of team-based and patient-centered care models by accrediting associations.

Through its Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative, the AMA has convened nearly a dozen medical schools to decrease disparities in medical education. “As more patients continue to receive health care coverage, it is essential that the next generation of physicians is sufficiently trained,” said AMA Board Member Stephen Permut, MD.

Health information technology (IT) has a role to play in easing the burdens on providers if developed, implemented, and used properly. But it is still only a support and no substitute for the skill and expertise of physicians using it.

Source:
Kyle Murphy, PhD
EHR Intelligence

Fashionable Footwear – Good for Style, Bad for Foot Health

More than half of Americans suffer from foot problems, and often those problems are directly related to shoes.

But no matter how cute a shoe looks, Orly Avitzur, medical adviser at Consumer Reports, said that having fashionable footwear isn’t worth the health risks.

“Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to lifelong deformities that require surgery to fix,” she said.

According to a new study from the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, uncomfortable and ill-fitting shoes are a serious problem. Shoes that force feet into narrow or pointy toes can cause bunions or hammertoes, where the toes curl unnaturally downward.

But that doesn’t stop women like Trisha Calvo and Jennifer Frost from wearing name brand heels.

“I feel fabulous in them,” Frost said. “You feel fabulous in your shoes…not physically
fabulous in them.”

Studies show that high heels can shorten your Achilles tendon and can trigger planter fasciitis, an inflammation in the soles of the feet. Avitzur recommends foregoing high heels for something more comfortable.

“Opt for a lower heel to take some of the pressure off the ball of your foot,” she said. “Make sure that there is enough room in the toe, and avoid thin-soled shoes that have little or no support.”

But even flat shoes can hurt feet if they lack proper support and cushioning, especially if they’re the wrong size.

One recent study revealed that up to a third of people wear the wrong shoe size, sometimes by up to one-and-a-half sizes. To combat that problem, Consumer Reports recommends measuring your feet each time you buy, especially for people over 40. After that, feet can grow up to half a shoe size every 10 years.

Source:
WRAL

“We Shouldn’t Be Doing It”: Lecturer Calls Out Serious Podiatric Myths

During his lecture entitled “Righting the Wrong: Exploding Myths in Podiatric Medicine” last month, Bradley W. Bakotic, DPM, DO, Bako Pathology Services in Alpharetta, GA called out some myths which have inexplicably become part of the modus operandi of the modern podiatrist.

“Podiatry is a little bit incestuous,” Dr. Bakotic said. “If you go to MD school, you’re taught dermatology by a dermatologist. In podiatry, you’re often taught dermatology by a podiatrist who has an interest in dermatology. It’s incestuous in the sense that we don’t get out into other disciplines like we should. We pass on ideas, and sometimes they’re frankly wrong.”

The first myth Bakotic tackled was “Soft tissue mass? Just cut it out!” school of thought.

“That’s a big one” he continued, “It’s profession-wide and can actually end up in frank negligence. I think this came from the fact that 70 percent of pedal soft tissue masses are ganglia, which are pseudo cysts. The problem is other neoplasms happen.”

“If you just cut it out blindly, you almost never have appropriate margins, so you’re going to have a higher recurrence rate,” he said. “It almost doubles. Distant metastasis also almost doubles.”

Bakotic went on to state the potential litigative repercussions of this; “When you go in and cut out soft tissue mass with positive margins, you cannot do limb-sparing surgery in the aftermath,” he said. “It has big repercussions.”

His conclusion on the myth was strong; “Cutting out soft tissue mass is something that should be left behind in this profession, we shouldn’t be doing it. We hurt people.”

Dr. Bakotic continued to dispel another myth – that acral dermatitis should be seen as tinea pedis until proven otherwise.

“When I was practicing podiatry, I wrote [a prescription] for one corticosteroid in seven years,” he said. “That’s incompetence. I was led to believe every time you saw a rash on the foot, it was tinea.”

Like many podiatric physicians, Dr. Bakotic said, he commonly writes prescriptions for antifungals.

“If you get the prescription data, you’ll see it’s an absolute fact. Only 25 percent of podiatrists prescribe a topical corticosteroid at least once a month. That’s ridiculous.”

After sharing results of studies that show nearly two-thirds of skin biopsies thought to be tinea pedis are not, Dr. Bakotic shared 10 photos with the audience, asking them to identify how many were cases of tinea pedis.

The answer? None.

“Many of us were just taught to assume everything’s a fungal infection,” Dr. Bakotic said. “When I was a student, if someone came in with dermatitis I was already running to the cabinet with the Spectazole samples.”

Source:
APMA

Flatfeet in Children – Cause for Concern?

An article by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons warns that Pediatric Flatfoot, a childhood condition can, if left untreated, result in permanent deformity in adulthood. Flatfoot deformity makes mobility and exercise painful, increasing the risk of reduced cardiovascular health and obesity.

All reasons why it is imperative for parents to keep a close eye on their childrens’ foot development – namely by having them visit a podiatrist at any sign of discomfort.

“Parents never want their child to undergo a surgical procedure,” says Mary Crawford, DPM, FACFAS, an Everett, Washington foot and ankle surgeon, “but uncorrected symptomatic flatfoot can lead to chronic pain and instability as the child ages into adulthood. Children will be on their feet for a long time to come. It’s vital to keep those feet healthy. A foot and ankle surgeon can help parents understand the options – surgical and non-surgical – for treating pediatric flatfoot.”

Not every child with pediatric flatfoot will display symptoms but many will complain of discomfort, tenderness or cramping in the foot, ankle or knee area.  It also makes participating in physical activities difficult, so parents should take note if the child is not participating in these activities with their friends.

So how do doctors diagnose pediatric flatfoot?  The DPM will evaluate the child’s foot in weight bearing and non-weight bearing positions, both in and out of shoes and will also note how the child walks and evaluates the foot’s range of motion.  For further detailed analysis, the physician may order imaging tests such as x-ray, a CT scan, MRI or bone scan.

So moral of the story – don’t mess around if your child appears to have symptoms of pediatric flatfoot as it could have direct, deleterious effects on their future health.

Source:
American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons

Prom Season is Almost Upon Us! How to Choose the Right Shoes (for Your Foot Style & Health!)

Get Your Feet Ready For Prom!
Choosing prom shoes for girls isn’t always easy and oftentimes critical factors such as comfort and fit are overlooked because you fall in love with a certain style or color, a decision that is frequently regretted about 30 minutes into the big night.  Our goal is to encourage you and your friends/family to make smart decisions from a health perspective while still keeping it stylish on Prom Night!

Comfort, Comfort, Comfort!
Comfort needs to be the number one thing you consider with these shoes.  Period.  You’re going to be spending a really long time standing, dancing, running, etc throughout the night and the last thing you need to worry about is discomfort on your feet.

Heels or No Heels?
Heels are obviously a very popular choice for prom but they should bring some consideration before you choose the wear them – do you wear them often?  Have you had issues with them before?  Have you spent long periods of time in them?  There’s no crime in not wearing heels because if you think you may have an issue, you probably will.  Wedges can be a good compromise between giant heels and the more comfortable flats – but just make sure you give it some honest thought!

Go Your Own Way!
Don’t worry about fitting in with what all the other girls are doing – go with your own style!  It’s very likely that you’ll be able to pick out what shoes most girls are going to wear so it wouldn’t be a crime to choose something completely different.  Sure you may get some weird looks from other (jealous) girls but at least you’ll be comfortable and doing your own thing!

Have any questions or comments about choosing the right Prom shoes?  Drop us a line at info@wetreatfeetpodiatry.com or 410-363-4343.