Friday, October 9, 2009

University of Albany Associate Professor Timothy Hoff Publishes Work On American health Care System

UAlbany Associate Professor Timothy Hoff examines the everyday work, stresses and expectations of today's primary care doctors in his new book.

Primary care physicians are the unsung heroes of the American health care system, according to a new book due out next month by Timothy Hoff, associate professor of health policy and management at the University at Albany's School of Public Health.

Hoff's book, Practice Under Pressure: Primary Care Physicians and Their Medicine in the Twenty-First Century (Rutgers Press), champions a new business model, medical education reform and a rebranding of primary care careers in order to help save the U.S. primary care system.

"I was motivated to do the research and write the book because our country relies heavily on a well functioning primary care system so that people live longer and stay healthier, and such a system is critical to making health reform work affordably," said Hoff, a UAlbany alumnus who joined the School of Public Health in 1998. "That system has been largely left to wither in favor of high-cost, high-tech specialty medicine that waits until we get sick to meet our needs."

Through interviews with 95 general practitioners, Hoff examines the everyday work, stresses and expectations of today's primary care doctors, who are increasingly being marginalized and used as mere gatekeepers to specialists, even as they struggle to survive financially in a system that forces them to practice assembly-line medicine. Yet primary care physicians remain the critical ingredient for good preventive care that lowers costs, and they serve as the main entry point for patients with chronic disease, behavioral health problems and sick individuals in need of complex care.

UAlbany's Timothy Hoff champions a new business model in Practice Under Pressure.

Hoff is a former health care consultant and hospital administrator.

"Having worked in health care and studied the system for two decades, I thought it was the perfect time to place the spotlight on primary care physicians, their work and everyday lives," he said.

Hoff 's book is designed to encourage better understanding of the realities of primary care, so that sound policy can be developed which has an impact in saving the vanishing primary care system in the United States.

"Timothy Hoff takes us to the heart and soul of the primary care crisis in America. Through personal stories, he reveals the daily frustrations and the deep compassion of these dedicated physicians," said Bruce Bagley, M.D., former president, American Academy of Family Physicians.

Practice Under Pressure recommends incremental yet innovative strategies such as a wider scope of work for primary care doctors, and individualized attention to and support for women and foreign-born physicians, groups that will soon dominate the ranks of general medicine.

Free copies of Hoff's new book will be available at a lecture and panel discussion on the critical role of primary care medicine at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 28, ME 700, Albany Medical College, 47 New Scotland Ave., Albany, N.Y. Panelists include:

• Dr. John Rugge, CEO, Hudson Headwaters Health Network
• Vito Grasso, CAE, Executive Vice President of NYS Academy of Family Physicians
• Dr. Denis Chagnon, Community Care Physicians, and
• Elizabeth Swain, Community Health Center Association of New York State.

A book signing and reception will follow.

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