Embracing a Diversified Future for US Primary Care
By Timothy Hoff, PhD | The American Journal of Managed Care
Although less focused upon given the current emphasis on the patient-centered medical home innovation, the future for US primary care is arguably one that will be characterized by diversity in service delivery structures and personnel. The drivers of this diversity include increased patient demand requiring a larger number of primary care access points; the need for lower-cost delivery structures that can flourish in a low-margin business model; greater interest in primary care delivery by retailers and hospitals that see their involvement as a means to enhance their core business goals; the increased desire by non-physician providers to gain work independence; and a growing cadre of younger PCPs whose career and job preferences leave them open to working in a variety of different settings and structures. A key issue to ask of a more diversified primary care system is whether or not it will be characterized by competition or cooperation. While a competitive system would not be unexpected given historical and current trends, such a system would likely stunt the prospects for a full revitalization of US primary care. However, there is reason to believe that a cooperative system is possible and would be advantageous, given the mutual dependencies that already exist among primary care stakeholders, and additional steps that could be taken to enhance such dependencies even more into the future.
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