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July 19, 1995

Compensating Physicians for Telephone Calls

Author Affiliations

University of California, Irvine

JAMA. 1995;274(3):216-217. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530030036025

To the Editor.  —The recent article by Dr Sorum1 proposing compensation of physicians for their provision of telephone patient care relies on somewhat problematic assumptions about the relationship between telephone patient management and in-person medical care. Whereas continued growth in the proportion of patients covered by capitation payments under managed care will probably make the compensation question less of an issue in the future, it is important to recognize that telephone care has not been found to be used as a substitute for in-person care to the extent implied by Sorum. In advocating for insurance coverage of telephone care, the American Society of Internal Medicine (ASIM) has developed guidelines that propose payment only for telephone calls that meet the following criteria for separate remuneration: the call must involve evaluation of a new problem, along with a medical decision; it must save the patient from an office or emergency department

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