Inadequate time with patients, patients' lack of ability to afford care, patients not adhering to recommended treatments, and difficulties in communicating are some of the some of the reasons cited by the physicians.
Researchers used data from the 2008 Community Tracking Physician Survey, a nationally representative sample of US physicians that included demographic information and patient characteristics.
â€œFrom this survey, we analyzed physicians' self-reported ability to provide high-quality care to Latinos and compared it to that of physicians treating primarily whites,â€ said Arturo Vargas-Bustamante, an assistant professor of health services at the UCLA School of Public Health and lead author of the study along with Jie Chen, an assistant professor at CUNY's College of Staten Island.
Latinos differ from other minority patients in their socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, as well as their patterns of healthcare access, use and spending, Vargas-Bustamante said, and these differences are likely to influence physicians' perceptions of the quality of care they deliver.
Latinos represent more than 15 percent of the US population, he noted, and they constitute the largest ethnic minority group in the country. And the Affordable Care Act of 2010, Vargas-Bustamante said, is likely to benefit larger proportions of minority individuals, particularly Latinos, who currently experience the highest uninsurance rate across racial and ethnic groups.
â€œWe wanted to understand the challenges that providers face in delivering high-quality care to underserved populations,â€ he said. â€œOvercoming such challenges will be critical to ensure that the insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act will succeed in providing better health for all.â€
What the researchers found, Vargas-Bustamante said, was disturbing. Physicians who primarily treat Latino patients don't feel they can provide high-quality care. But in addition to the problems specific to Latinos, these physicians still must contend with all the common problems of providing health care regardless of ethnicity, including insurers' rejection of claim decisions, medical errors, a relative lack of available specialists and the lack of timely transmission of reports among physicians.
Vargas-Bustamante noted that, when implemented, the Affordable Care Act can potentially address some of these quality challenges.
â€œAn increased supply of medical personnel, for example, would allow primary care physicians to allocate more time to patients and improve follow-up,â€ he said. â€œAlso, more cultural competence will come from the strengthening of primary care providers, which would address problems with communicating and in improving treatment compliance.â€
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