The Super PCP: How Virtual Online Consultations Enhance Primary Care Capacity
As a shortage of specialists looms, and the effectiveness of referral processes wanes, healthcare looks toward innovative solutions to enhance quality primary care and capacity at the front line of care for our patient population. Through strengthening this effective and efficient care setting, access and outcomes improve. Learn more about how telehealth technologies, specifically virtual online consultations, are proving a valuable resource to enhance primary care through increased capacity.
An estimated 209,0001 primary care physicians (PCPs) are caring for a population fast approaching 325 million. As America’s baby boomers age, PCPs have steadily increased the volume of cases referred to specialist care by having more than doubled since 19993. However, the country is also projecting a deficit of 95,000 specialty physicians by 2025.
The rising tide of demand and waning supply of physicians has resulted in a less effective and more costly specialty referral process. Referrals often lack complete medical workups, are sent to the wrong specialist, or are inappropriate for specialist attention. Long delays for PCPs to receive the results from specialist visits decrease a PCP’s ability to optimize patient care. Most importantly, referral issues may delay the necessary patient treatment and lower satisfaction with the care process.
One solution to overcoming the specialist shortage is to increase the breadth of capabilities maintained by PCPs.
To do so, PCPs must embrace tools that extend their clinical domain without delegating patient care to specialists, essentially becoming “Super PCPs.” This expansion of capabilities is consistent with the evolution of the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model of quality primary care that strengthens relationships between patients and their clinical care teams.