Consultants at PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. are suggesting ideas for helping the country cope with a growing shortage of primary care physicians.
Efforts to hold down health care costs while promoting “universal access” to health care have contributed to a mismatch between demand for care and the supply in many areas of the United States, according to the Health Research Institute unit at PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York.
About 25% of consumers say it takes more than 30 days to see a doctor, and 10% say they’ve had to wait 3 months or longer, the institute consultants report.
In Massachusetts, which introduced a universal access program in 2006, the physician shortage is especially severe, the consultants write.
One solution could be delivering more care via electronic mail or telephone, and survey data show many consumers are interested in getting care that way, the consultants write.
More than a third of consumers told researchers they would consider using retail clinics and worksite clinics, about 28% said they would consider participating in “shared medical appointments.”
When patients share medical appointments, physicians conduct short personal exams, then gather 10 or 15 patients together to answer questions and provide general information about the patients’ health concerns.