A well-known deficiency in our current healthcare system is access to affordable primary care providers that patients know and trust, and who know them. At C3LX, we believe that under our current Covid-19 situation, the statement about “know and trust, and who know them” is of utmost importance. Two issues already presenting during this Covid-19 outbreak are the unnecessary use of the ED by patients lacking affordable primary care access (causing delays for the patients that absolutely need to be in the ED), and the lack of patient knowledge and care continuity when a patient uses a telehealth service that links to a provider who has never worked with the patient before. Digital and telehealth can add much needed capacity for primary care practices, but these technical offerings need to support continuity of care and relationships, not merely transactions where care goals, underlying conditions and pre-existing conditions have to be repeated each time.
So, what are some possible solutions to address this deficiency of necessary access to affordable primary care? The article below and other research and posts have identified several solutions:
- Providing access to care, not just coverage. The uninsured rate is now rising to 13%-14% of the population, but coverage alone doesn’t mean access to care. One of the many reasons we support Direct Primary Care is the high quality, affordable primary care offering they provide…and you don’t need insurance coverage to use it.
- Adding after hour and weekend hours. Again, Direct Primary Care physicians often are available after hours via secure chat and other sophisticated digital health platforms.
- Building flexible care models that maximize the use of the physician’s time and their scope of practice.
- Smart digital health solutions that quickly identify patients who require immediate physician attention, physician attention in a proactive preventative manner or simply allowing a physician to easily track their patient’s progress help make the physician’s time efficient and effective.
- Similarly, technology that can help a clinical practice quickly triage patients to the appropriate care team member (MAs, nurses, health coaches) creates better efficiencies to handle surges in patient volumes.
Our current struggle with Covid-19 shines a bright light on already existing primary care capacity and telemedicine gaps. Both can be addressed and while not the only solution, purposefully built technology platforms can ease these capacity constraints while enhancing the relationship and continuity of care that patients already have with their trusted care teams.