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Can Novel Approaches Fill Primary Care Needs?

New primary care arrangements show how primary care is evolving — or splitting apart, depending upon one’s perspective.

Retainer fees let one practice handle more patients by phone or email. But, points out Richard Baron, FACP, affluent communities can take advantage of such arrangements, and not every community is. And Sam Fink, FACP, of southern California says tele-visits are no substitute for hands-on care. In another model, nurse-led facilities service the poor in north Philadelphia, and more states are expanding the power of the pen to cover shortages. 

Another trend is the shared medical appointment. Led by physicians and conducted by “behaviorists,” the sessions cover a half-dozen or more patients at a time for both primary and specialty care.

Even pharmacists are getting in on primary care. Blue Shield of California is trying a pilot project of pharmacists, believing they have the clinical and patient communication skills to be as effective as doctors, but for less cost. But primary care doctors aren’t completely ceding their profession. There are also pilot projects in California to train more doctors and steer them into communities facing a shortage of primary care services. (USA Today, Fox News, ACP Internist, New York Times, Whittier Daily News)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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