One of the negatives of COVID-19 has been a decrease in primary care doctor visits, as some people have sought to reduce face-to-face interactions. That compounds the fact that the number of Americans with a primary care physician continues to decline. Reversing that trend is important. Joining us today to discuss this is Dr. Ken Adams, Chief Medical Officer at United Healthcare.
First, can you please explain to our viewers/listeners what is primary care?
Primary care is really a bedrock of our nation’s health system. Long considered a first source for medical care, primary care physicians represent a key resource to help provide various types of care, including to help prevent illness and detect diseases as early as possible.
We know primary care providers may help to more conveniently and affordably meet peoples’ day-to-day health care needs, including for:
- annual checkups
- preventive screenings
- routine care
- chronic condition management
Typically, primary care providers act as a principal point of care for people as they navigate the health system, helping identify risk factors for disease; manage chronic disease care for longevity and a better quality of life; and coordinate with other care specialists.
Importantly, research shows strengthening primary care contributes to improved access to health care services, better health outcomes, and a decrease in hospitalization and use of emergency department visits.
How can people go about finding a primary care physician if they don’t already have one?
Variations in the quality and cost of health care are a significant challenge for many people and the health care system broadly, in large part because many individuals may be unaware of how to appropriately identify and evaluate quality care providers.
As a starting point, people can compare publicly available online patient reviews to help research primary care professionals in their local areas. For a more detailed analysis, some health plans offer online search capabilities that denote high-performing care providers, as determined by national standardized measures for quality and local geographic area benchmarks for cost efficiency.
More broadly, some health plans and hospitals provide available cost information online, including actual contracted rates for hundreds of “shoppable” medical services. Enabling people to compare quality and cost information can contribute to physical and financial health.
When it comes to evaluating the right setting for care, a doctor’s office is not the only way to access in-person care. For instance, people enrolled in UnitedHealthcareMedicare Advantage plans may have access to House Calls, which provides an annual in-home health and wellness visit from the convenience and privacy of home.
Sponsored by UnitedHealthcare. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.