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May 19, 2015

What Is the Right Number of Clinic Appointments?Visit Frequency and the Accountable Care Organization

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • 3Partners HealthCare, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2015;313(19):1905-1906. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.3356

In the United States, patients make 1 billion visits to physicians’ offices every year.1 These visits are the principal way patients access health care and are the building blocks of the patient-physician relationship, at an estimated annual cost of nearly $600 billion.2 Payment system changes are fueling growth in alternatives to the traditional office visit, raising the question of how often patients should visit and interact with their clinicians. The large variation in practice, the paucity of research on the subject, and the emergence of accountable care organizations (ACOs), in which health systems uphold quality standards and assume a share of financial risk for patient costs, present new impetus to examine this question from an individual and a population health perspective.

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