Primary care doctors get high marks for care delivery

Amid ever-increasing options to address their health concerns, Americans still prefer their primary care physician.

According to results of a survey conducted by GfK Roper for EMR vendor Practice Fusion, three in five Americans say they receive the best medical care from their primary care doctor.

The survey, conducted April 13-15 via phone from among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults age 18 or older, indicates a strong preference for primary care physicians above specialists, hospitals and urgent care facilities. Respondents also conveyed a desire for increased communication with doctors and more appointment availability.

“Primary care providers are the medical backbone of our communities,” said Ryan Howard, CEO of Practice Fusion, which provides a free, web-based EHR system to physicians. “These local doctors provide the personalized care and preventative medicine that improves patient health and drives down costs. Unless they are supported by innovative health technology and fair policies on reimbursements, however, many communities may be left without one.”

Among the survey’s key findings:

  • 62 percent of respondents said they receive better care at their primary care physician, followed by specialists (16 percent), hospitals (13 percent) and urgent care (3 percent).
  • 38 percent of respondents said increased communication with doctors would improve their medical experience, as would more appointment availability (31 percent) and ease of access to medical records (15 percent).
  • Respondents with a household income of more than $20,000 are nearly twice as likely to visit the doctor for preventative care than those making less than $20,000.
  • Women of all ages are more likely to visit the doctor for preventative care (64 percent) compared to men (58 percent).

Local doctors deliver an estimated 80 percent of patient care in the United States. However, primary care practices are increasingly facing financial hardship, burdensome debt and even bankruptcy. Increases in the cost of operating a medical practice — up 52.6 percent since 2001 — have compounded recent drops in reimbursement rates.

Primary care physicians act as the primary resource for basic medical services and preventative care, but there are currently not enough PCPs to meet a growing U.S population and an increasing number of patients with chronic conditions, the survey report said.

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