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Primary Care Physician Shortage, Healthcare Reform, and Convenient Care: Challenge Meets Opportunity?

Amer Kaissi, PhD
Volume: 105 Issue: 11 November, 2012

Abstract:

Primary care in the United States is in a deepening crisis as physician shortages and reduced patient access loom. The healthcare reform law enacted by the US Congress in 2010 will improve the coverage for uninsured and underinsured people and will indirectly address some of the cost problems of the healthcare system, but it does not solve the primary care access conundrum, especially with 32 million people expected to be added to the ranks of the insured by 2019. Consequently, experts warn that “if the primary care foundation of the healthcare system is not strengthened, true access and cost containment may be impossible.”1 Solutions may reside in recent disruptive innovations, striving to make health care more accessible and convenient by relying on nonphysician providers. This article reviews the evidence on primary care physicians shortages and reduced access, discusses the implications of healthcare reform on primary care, and explores several advances in convenient care that may play a role in larger institutional settings such as patient-centered medical homes.

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