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A. A Doctor A Day Keeps the Hospital Away

Narrator: This is Science Today. Dr. Andrew Bindman of the University of California, San Francisco did a study showing that people with chronic medical conditions are less likely to wind up in the hospital if they have regular access to a primary care provider -- a doctor or nurse practitioner. There are two reasons. One is that, when you're chronically ill, a provider who's familiar with your case knows how to treat a flare-up in your condition without hospitalizing you.

Bindman: The other thing is that with ongoing primary care, patients will learn to identify at earlier stages when they may be having a decline in their health, and to also learn self-management techniques so that they can take care of the problem better on their own before needing to go to the doctor.

Narrator: Bindman found that people in low income communities generally had higher rates of hospitalization. But some poorer neighborhoods had much higher rates than others.

Bindman: And that may be because some low income communities provide public clinics, for example, that may improve the access to care in those communities, and that can make a real difference in the likelihood of needing to be hospitalized.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.