Telehealth continues to demonstrate its popularity, this time among people suffering with chronic pain.

At their annual meeting this month, itself held online, anesthesiologists heard that patients who met with their pain specialist remotely were overwhelmingly satisfied with the experience.

Conducted by the UCLA Comprehensive Pain Center in Los Angeles, the survey period began in August 2019, long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients at the pain center were given the option of in-office or remote appointments by video or phone. The 1,398 patients who chose the remote options had a cumulative 2,948 virtual appointments.

According to an account of the study by Healthcare Finance the virtual meetings saved patients both time and money. Half saved at least 69 minutes commuting and a roundtrip of 26 miles or more. They also saved a median $22 in gas and parking fees for each virtual visit.

Initial visits for new patients or existing patients with new conditions were best served by in-person office appointments, the report said. Thereafter, follow-up appointments could be conducted remotely. Anesthesiologists participating in the conference estimated that up to 50% of visits could be virtual.


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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

Family Doctors Are In Demand Everywhere

Family physicians are the most recruited of all doctors. The demand for these family practitioners is expected to grow by 10%, second only to psychiatrists. Yet those who practice family medicine have seen their average pay decrease, making these doctors among the lowest paid of all medical specialties.

To 10 states highest doctor pay - blog.jpg

These aren’t new revelations, but they stand out starkly in the just-released Physician Compensation Report from Physicians Thrive, a financial advisory firm for doctors. The report is a compilation of data from multiple sources. It covers pay and bonuses by physician specialty and practice, and drills down into regional and state differences, hiring demand, and gender gap issues.

The report tells us that in 2020 specialists earned an average $346,000 per year, up from $341,000 in 2019. But female physicians earn 28% less on average than their male counterparts in the same specialty.

Primary care physicians, including family medicine practitioners, earn an average of $243,000 per year, up from $237,000 in 2019. But half of all family medicine doctors earn less than $205,000. And they’ve seen their pay decrease by 8.3%, the largest of all medical specialties, according to the report.

Why isn’t clear.

It’s not a matter of a significant gender imbalance the way it is in pediatrics where almost two-thirds of the doctors are women. Or in obstetrics/gynecology, which is 59% female. The Association of American Medical Colleges says 59% of the family medicine doctors are male.

For whatever reason, the Physicians Thrive report says that, “Since 2014, the number of physicians choosing to work in family medicine has decreased, leaving family practices understaffed throughout the country.”

Picking up at least some of the slack are nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The report says 78% of NPs and 33% of PAs provide primary care, according to the report. Though they do much of the same work as a physician, nurse practitioners on average earned $124,000 in 2019.

The highest-paid specialists, according to the report, are neurosurgeons earning a median of $645,000. In the Midwest, these specialists earn an average of $760,000 annually, making them the highest-paid specialists anywhere.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash


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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

Wide Scale Testing Beginning for COVID-19 Vaccines

Researchers are making so much progress in developing a vaccine against COVID-19 that the first wide-scale testing could begin in a matter of weeks.

The New York Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker says a vaccine developed by the 10-year-old biotech company Moderna expects to start wide-scale testing this month. If it does, it would mark an almost unprecedented acceleration of the clinical testing process.

Typically, testing and approving a new vaccine takes two or three years. Sometimes more. But under the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed, Modena received a fast-track designation from the Food and Drug Administration. It also got a $483 million award to further its Covid-19 vaccine.

Through its Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker The Times is updating the status of all the vaccines that have reached human testing, along with a selection of promising vaccines still being tested in cells or animals. Because of the number and especially speed at which bioscience and pharmaceutical firms are moving to develop a successful vaccine, the Tracker is being updated almost every day.

The World Health Organization lists 149 different vaccine projects underway worldwide. 17 are in clinical evaluation, meaning they are being tested in humans, either in small groups to ensure their safety and basic efficacy, or in hundreds to see the effect among different age groups.

The Vaccine Tracker lists five vaccine candidates that are in or about to launch Phase III testing, the broadest testing category where thousands of volunteers are enlisted to determine if the vaccine is widely effective and how well it protects people from becoming infected. That’s the test Moderna expects to begin soon.

A vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford is already in Phase III testing in Brazil and South Africa and is in a simultaneous Phase II and III study in Europe. This program, like Moderna’s, is part of Operation Warp Speed.

The Vaccine Tracker lists two Chinese firms – Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm – as ready to soon start broad testing of their respective vaccines. Sinopharm’s testing will be conducted in the United Arab Emirates. Sinovac plans to conduct its Phase III study in China and Brazil.

A fifth vaccine, which is not a vaccine specifically for COVID-19, but a sort of immune system booster, is being tested in Australia. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, a vaccine originally developed for tuberculosis, has been found over its 100 year history to help fight off other types of infections and parasites. The Phase III testing will determine if it also helps protect against COVID-19.

Image by Angelo Esslinger


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Green Key