Barriers to PCP adoption
There are a number of barriers to PCP adoption. Primary among them? The wait time to see a provider, and a lack of diversity among PCPs.
Today, the average wait time to get an appointment with a new physician is 26 days. And that’s in larger U.S. cities. For people in rural areas, the wait is even longer.<sup>5</sup>
These wait times are occurring to a workforce now made up primarily of Millennials and Gen Z, digital natives accustomed to on-demand ease and convenience. Primary care simply doesn’t meet their expectations.<sup>6</sup>
No wonder top reasons cited for not having a PCP include “It’s too hard to get an appointment” and “I can’t find one close enough to me.”<sup>7</sup>
Millennials and Gen Z are also the most racially and ethnically diverse generations to date in the United States. That’s why diverse provider options matter for people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, non-native English speakers, and others.
49% of Black and 50% of Latinx Californians reported difficulty finding a doctor with a shared background or experience.<sup>8</sup> In one recent large study, seven in ten Black Americans said they believe discrimination in health care happens somewhat often, and Black adults are less likely to say they trust doctors and the healthcare system to do right by their communities.<sup>9</sup>
When patients receive care from doctors who share their background or experiences, the health benefits can be significant. A recent study in Oakland, California, found that African American men were much more likely to select all preventive services available, particularly invasive ones, when they met with an African American provider. The study suggests that having a provider of the same background could reduce the black-white male gap in cardiovascular mortality by 19%.<sup>10</sup>
How can virtual primary care help?