A recent study commissioned by Independent Health finds Western New Yorkers across all generational segments have very positive opinions about primary care and understand the important role of primary care physicians (PCPs) in coordinating and delivering effective, patient-centered health care.

Ninety-four percent of survey respondents said they have a doctor they consider to be their PCP.

Nationwide, this number is lower.  A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, using data from the Centers for Disease Control, shows that 77.5 percent of adults in the U.S. have a health care provider they consider as their primary doctor.

Western New Yorkers also rely on their PCP when seeking care and advice, including:

  • 95 percent of Traditionalists (born between 1924-1945)
  • 92 percent of Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964)
  • 91 percent of Generation X (born between 1965-1981)
  • 81 percent of Millennials (born between 1982-1999)

Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO of Independent Health, said the study findings support the health plan’s long history of introducing numerous efforts to strengthen primary care and support PCPs, particularly a time when the U.S. is facing a critical shortage of PCPs.

“PCPs are the linchpin of health care and their influence has a ripple effect on specialists, other providers and the entire health care system,” said Dr. Cropp. “We’ve been working with PCPs for many years to help them create more access, more consistency in the quality of care they provide, and a greater efficiency within their practices, while rewarding them for taking a more proactive role in helping their patients navigate what for too long has been a very complex and fragmented health care system.”

Other key findings from the research include:

  • 7% of all respondents said they start with their PCP when they need care.
  • 8% believe it’s important to share information among all providers to ensure a patient gets the health care services they need in an organized and effective manner.

Listening and same-day appointments are valuable

Survey respondents said the following attributes are most valuable to them when seeing their PCP:

  • Listens to me (96%)
  • Answers my questions (95%)
  • Explains things in a way that is easy to understand (95%)

Survey respondents said they find the following services most valuable from their PCP:

  • Same day/next day appointments (87.6%)
  • Extended hours (77.2%)
  • Help sorting through information and making decisions (69.2%)


Importance of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

When asked who they would want to see if their PCP was not available, 58 percent of respondents said they would be willing to see a nurse practitioner (N.P.).  Fifty-five percent would be willing to see a physician’s assistant (P.A.).  Others would go to an urgent care center (24 percent) or emergency room (9 percent).

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates there will be a continued shortage of between 14,800 and 49,000 PCPs in the U.S. by the year 2030, depending on the supply of advanced practice nurses and P.A.s who will be needed to help fill the gap.

“The increased utilization of mid-level practitioners and structuring the care team in a manner that empowers each member to practice at the highest level of their license addresses growing patient demand while also providing the best care possible in a highly efficient manner,” Dr. Cropp said.

Dr. Cropp said Independent Health will continue to emphasize revitalizing and growing primary care, including a more team-focused approach, to help achieve the “quadruple aim” of better health, better care, improved affordability (lower costs), and provider vitality.

“The economic vitality of the Western New York region and the entire nation are dependent on having a prosperous health care economy, and this is subsequently dependent on having a strong primary care workforce,” Dr. Cropp added.

For further discussion and additional survey results, download Independent Health’s free white paper, Research Shows Western New Yorkers Understand the Important Role Primary Care Physicians in Coordinating and Delivering Effective, Patient-Centered Health Care.