Patients Lack Faith in Traditional Primary Care Model

Health care professionals aren't the only ones worried about the future of care: Americans are deeply skeptical about the future of the traditional primary care physician model.

The shortage of primary care physicians is only expected to get worse through the changes from the Affordable Care Act and health care professionals aren’t the only ones worried: Americans are deeply skeptical about the future of the traditional primary care physician model.

A survey commissioned by PartnerMD, a national membership-based medical provider, found that 69% of Americans worry about the future of the traditional primary care model, the predominant system for health care delivery. These respondents expressed concern that the effects of the ACA will severely limit their contact with doctors.

"As new health care regulations shine more light on the traditional primary care model, faults within the existing system are becoming more exposed," PartnerMD Chief Executive Officer Linda Nash said in a statement. "This survey confirms that Americans are wary about the future."

Half of respondents cited rising health care costs as the top reason for concern about the current system, while 23% noted the new health care regulations. Regarding the ACA, a third are concerned about the law’s negative impacts and only 10% said it would positively affect their care.

Nash understands the sentiment and believes the care model is falling short because of the millions of new patients entering the system, increased workloads for physicians and shrinking reimbursements.

Respondents also expressed concern about long wait times for appointments that are too short. The PartnerMD survey found that more than a third of patients wait four or more days to see their doctors and a quarter wait longer than a week. But those numbers can actually be on the low end. A survey from Merritt Hawkins and AMN Healthcare revealed that the average wait time in the nation is 18.5 days with patients in Boston waiting 66 days on average to see a family physician.

And once they actually get an appointment with their doctors, 93% of Americans spend less than 30 minutes with their doctor and a third actually sees the doctor for less than 10 minutes.

A small percentage of survey respondents would consider something like concierge medicine. According to respondents, 13% would be willing to pay an annual fee for increased access to their physician. PartnerMD points out that this could mean an additional 31 million patients in the concierge model.

"The traditional model puts doctors under tremendous pressure to treat huge numbers of patients at light speed," Jim Mumper, MD, a PartnerMD physician and the company's chief medical officer, said in a statement. "And full appointment schedules leave those with acute care needs without many options. It's understandable that many patients and physicians are looking for a better care model."