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ARTICLE |

Compensating Physicians for Telephone Calls

Paul Clay Sorum, MD, PhD; Martin A. Strosberg, MPH, PhD
JAMA. 1994;272(24):1949-1950. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520240077045.
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PHYSICIANS should be compensated for the time they spend talking with patients by telephone.

Probable Benefits  The telephone is very useful for patients. They can speak to the office nurse or the physician and do so frequently. From 1976 through 1978, a large percentage of patient-physician encounters were by telephone: 19% of general practitioner encounters, 18% of family practitioner encounters, 28% of pediatrician encounters, 23% of general internist encounters, 20% of obstetrician/gynecologist encounters, and 12% of general surgeon encounters.1 Moreover, information and advice obtained by telephone are usually free.Use of the telephone also benefits third-party payers. Contact with the nurse or physician can prevent visits to the emergency department or the physician's office. For example, the majority of after-hours callers to one family practice clinic reported that they would have gone straight to the emergency department if they had not been able to call.2 The results are

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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