Grow primary-care doctors

An investment in more doctors and more residency slots, as advocated in The Augusta Chronicle (“A real medical emergency,” Dec. 28), is necessary, but not sufficient to address the state’s evolving health-care needs.

The challenges of our current health-care system – including high cost, variable quality, insufficient access and persistent disparities experienced by rural, low-income and minority communities – clearly demonstrate that increasing the number of providers won’t automatically translate to better care.

Building the health-care workforce that Georgia needs will require targeted investments in primary care and in developing a more diverse medical workforce that reflects the diversity of our state. Primary-care health provider shortage areas exist in 126 Georgia counties. Numerous studies have demonstrated that health systems with a strong primary-care foundation provide better outcomes at lower costs. In spite of the increasing diversity in our state, minorities remain underrepresented in the medical work force.

Minority physicians are more likely to care for underserved populations, practice in low-income communities and choose primary-care specialties.

A targeted strategy focused on primary care and diversity will help build the medical workforce that Georgia needs.

Harry J Heiman, M.D., M.P.H.

Eddie J Turner, M.D., M.P.H.

Atlanta

(The writers are members of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.)

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