“I hate going to the doctor.”
We hear people say that so often we hardly ask why anymore. The trouble comes when that sentiment actually stops people from accessing necessary medical care. That's when serious conditions are more likely to develop or worsen. So let’s break it down and look at the barriers to primary care and preventive visits through the patient’s eyes. It might just make you rethink which strategies are right for the people you are trying to keep healthy.
Convenience is king.
Most Americans have a regular doctor or other healthcare professional to provide their care. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get an appointment or keep it once it’s made.
Lengthy delays for a family practice appointment have become the norm across the country. More than one quarter of American adults have to wait six or more days when care is needed. Is it any wonder that emergency room visits continue to rise? During the past two years, one in five American adults couldn’t get in to see their regular doctor when they needed to. Half of the time it was because the doctor was completely booked. The alternative? Most often those patients went to the emergency room, or to urgent care. They liked the ease of being seen, the rapidity of treatment, and the location. That's despite the fact that they gave emergency room and urgent care visits much lower quality ratings than the doctor’s office.
But what if you had a provider dedicated only to your company’s employees? A provider with a comprehensive medical record for you who offers top quality care? What if you could get to that provider during your working hours for walk-ins and same day appointments right where you already are? What if you could walk out of that appointment with the medications you need in hand? Most of the time, you could circumvent an emergency room or urgent care visit. You'd get better coordinated care from a provider who knows you. And you'd save a very substantial amount of money.
This scenario is not too good to be true – it plays out daily at Healthstat clinics across the country. That’s part of the reason that Healthstat’s most recent independently-validated Quality survey showed a 93% patient satisfaction rate. That's much higher than patients give in other surveys to any other type of provider.
Care has to be coordinated.
Navigating the complexities of the health care system can be overwhelming no matter who you are. Patients often learn the hard way that they have to be their own best advocate…but that can be daunting, exhausting, and scary. With Healthstat, patients have a trained medical advocate – to see gaps in their care that so often are missed, to see potential problems approaching, to interpret test results and doctors’ orders, and to help navigate through the maze of the health care system.
Healthstat has known from the inception of our high tech, high touch model what a recently published study reports: The most important factor in making care coordination work is relationship building with patients, other providers, and community resources.
Jeanne McGregor is a board-certified occupational and environmental medicine physician who also holds an advanced degree in public health. Dr. McGregor works in both a Healthstat clinic and private family practice. She says, “We have successfully integrated our patient care at the Healthstat clinic with the local medical community. For example, our patients are instructed to continue care with their primary care provider, though in some cases that might mean just being seen by them once a year and us handling the monitoring during the year. "
"Most primary care practices in the area are already overwhelmed with patients," says Dr. McGregor. "More often than not cannot even give a patient an appointment without a 2-3 week wait. Our timely servicing of our patients’ needs, as well as our assistance with periodic chronic care management, dovetails nicely with the services currently available in the community. We have made arrangements with local radiology facilities for expedited service and have developed a list of excellent specialists to whom we have been referring when necessary.”
Physician shortages are increasing pressures.
Within 10 years, U.S. medical schools will be graduating 45,000 fewer primary care physicians than our health care system requires. How can we fill that gap and protect patient access to care?
Healthstat identified and addressed this problem very early on, leading the healthcare industry as pioneers in developing comprehensive strategies to mitigate the impact of physician shortages for our clients and their employees, particularly those in underserved areas. The Healthstat model, launched and refined over the past 15 years, provides the highest level of patient care, safety, and satisfaction by deploying an ideal complement of providers with the exact training and support needed to deliver coordinated, quality, evidence-based care. From the beginning, we built an integrated, holistic model with a focus on prevention, early intervention, and disease management that is only now becoming widely adopted across the U.S. healthcare system.
Since the Institute of Medicine recommended removing scope of practice barriers just over five years ago, there are 37% more physician assistants and 50% more nurse practitioners serving patients in the U.S. Enabling these providers to practice to the full extent of their education and training, and incorporating telemedicine and other remote services, are further examples of now-emerging trends in expanded access to healthcare services that have long been part of the Healthstat model.
Staying healthy is hard work. Getting to the doctor doesn’t have to be.