Having a primary care provider (PCP) is key to good health, yet one-third of Americans (100 million!) don’t have one, according to a 2023 report by the National Association of Community Health Centers. Several key factors come into play, from PCP shortages to patients not having access to care and a lack of federal funding in primary care.
Traditionally the primary care model focuses on helping patients get better in the short-term, but doesn’t focus on prevention or long-term health issues, including chronic conditions. The fee-for-service model incentivizes providers to see as many patients as possible, so providers don’t have time to spend with patients to get to know them and help them improve their health.
In a traditional primary care setting, it’s not uncommon for a patient to have to wait 26 days before they can see their physician, and after the appointment, they may never hear back from the doctor’s office.
For two years now, I’ve worked at an employer-sponsored health center, where our average appointment time is 32 minutes, and I can spend more time with patients as needed. Building trust and creating a connection is key to having them succeed in improving their health. The employer healthcare model improves access to care. It’s convenient with same- and next-day appointments, and employees can visit during the workday — often for little or no cost depending on the employer. According to a poll by Kaiser Family Foundation, almost half of U.S. adults have difficulty affording healthcare costs and 4 in 10 report delaying medical care due to cost.
With a focus on wellness and prevention, advanced primary care at employer health centers takes an integrated approach, surrounding employees with primary care providers, a health coach, a behavioral health counselor and a physical therapist. The team works in tandem to be proactive to help employees improve their health. We’re able to build relationships and walk beside the patient on their healthcare journey. This model of care lowers employer costs, improves health outcomes and enhances the employee experience.