News Health/Medical Primary Care Disrupted: Navigating Changes in Healthcare
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Kaiser Family Foundation

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Primary Care Disrupted: Navigating Changes in Healthcare

By Julie Appleby and Hannah Norman and Oona Tempest

Published on April 1, 2024

How patients access their doctors is undergoing a transformation, and this shift has significant implications for healthcare quality and accessibility. With over 100 million Americans lacking regular access to primary care—a number that has nearly doubled since 2014—the traditional model of decades-long relationships with the same doctor is no longer the norm.

The Changing Landscape

Primary care, often referred to as the “front door” of the health system, is experiencing disruption. Several factors contribute to this:

  • Increased Demand: The demand for primary care services has surged, driven in part by record enrollments in Affordable Care Act plans.
  • Consolidation: Healthcare providers are consolidating, leading to larger practices and more diverse care teams.
  • Shifting Patient Expectations: Patients now seek convenience, personalized care, and digital solutions.

What It Means for Patients

Patients must adapt to this evolving landscape:

  • Choice and Variety: Rather than relying solely on a single doctor, patients may encounter a team of healthcare professionals with specialized expertise.
  • Telehealth and Virtual Visits: Remote consultations are becoming commonplace, offering convenience and accessibility.
  • Health Literacy: Patients need to navigate complex healthcare systems and understand their options.

Looking Ahead

As primary care continues to transform, patients should stay informed, engage with their care teams, and advocate for their health needs.

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