• What Primary Care Will Look Like in the Coming Years

    There’s no doubt about it, healthcare in America is changing dramatically, with value-based payment models, population health initiatives and personalized healthcare making much of the impact. Couple that with the aging baby boomers, and it’s obvious that primary care will have to go through a transformation as well. Wondering what primary care will look like?

    What Primary Care Will Look Like More than ever before, the focus of the healthcare industry is now on prediction, prevention, personalization and participation (CV4P™). Technology is evolving to meet the shift and payment structures are changing to reward quality care that is proactive instead of reactive.

    Primary care will soon evolve to be the hub from which all care comes about. Instead of just being the gatekeeper of scattered specialist referrals, primary care will provide integrated care that benefits the patient in comprehensive and personalized ways, providing better value for the healthcare consumer’s dollars as well as improved health outcomes.

    What Primary Care Will Look Like Reinvented

    More Value for Healthcare Dollars – Patients will start to enjoy more time with their healthcare providers, more service offerings under one roof and payment models that are tied to quality instead of quantity.

    Integrated Care Teams – You’ll start finding more integrated care offerings from your primary care provider. For example, a team of providers will be able to better treat the whole patient by offering not only traditional primary care, but also specialties and complementary services that have in the past been considered separate from traditional care, like nutrition coaching, acupuncture, reiki, naturopathy and more.

    Virtual Tools & Digital Healthcare – You’ll start hearing more about remote monitoring, smartphone apps, and do-it-yourself home diagnostics for things like strep throat, ear infections and urinary tract infections.

    Telehealth Services – Healthcare consumers have made it clear that they want non-traditional methods of receiving medical care, and telehealth is one way that providers will be able to see more patients in the comfort of their own home – not everything requires a visit to the doctor’s office.

    Convenient Care – From one-stop shopping, such as lab, imaging, physical therapy and complementary services under one roof, to the availability of retail health clinics and urgent care centers, to telehealth and concierge health services, healthcare is about to get a lot more convenient.

    House Calls & Home Care – People want more freedom and convenience these days, and the healthcare industry is certainly rising to the occasion by bringing back house calls and treating people at home through home care services.

    Data-Driven Decisions – The sequencing of the genome has opened up a much more advanced segment of healthcare, and more and more, it will start to drive the healthcare decisions that are made for patients. This is good news because it allows treatments to be more personalized and precise.

    Care Coordination – One of the biggest changes on the horizon is the addition of care coordinators, who will serve as health coaches handling patient interactions and connecting them with the physicians, specialists, services and products they personally need. Care coordinators will be an invaluable point of contact for patients.

    Simplified Billing – Fortunately, we will start seeing single invoices for all care provided including physician care, lab tests and specialty services, as well as clearer language and up-front knowledge of what the costs will be.

    Educated Consumers – With the availability of information, patients are now coming to their healthcare providers already armed with information. As long as they are doing their homework on reputable websites, this can be a good thing, helping them to come in already knowing what questions they want to ask and taking an active role in their care.

    Why the Change is Needed

    Here are the top 5 reasons why primary care is changing:

    • Too many Americans have been putting off care because it is either expensive and/or inconvenient. When chronic issues go unmanaged, they get worse, leading to more expenses in the long run and even death. It’s clear that our healthcare system needs to change and doing so from the first point of contact (the primary care physician) is critical.
    • Wait times for primary care appointments are averaging 19.5 days, and then when you finally get to your appointment, it’s a 10-minute visit with the physician. This is not efficient or satisfying, and it doesn’t lead to improved health outcomes.
    • 81 million Americans will be living with multiple chronic conditions by 2020[1] and each of those patients need more attention than physicians can provide on their own at a cost-effective price.
    • Emergency rooms are being overused because primary care is not effectively working in the U.S., with 37% of visits to the ER being for non-urgent services.
    • Healthcare consumers are demanding a change. They want to be rewarded for steps they take to maintain wellness and they want care that is more predictable, preventable, personalized and participatory.

     

    [1] http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2809%2960048-9/abstract

    Other Sources:

    Primary Care in the New Health Economy: Time for a makeover, PricewaterehouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute Nov 2015

    Photo Credit: Flickr, Vic

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