Having a dedicated primary care physician in charge of your healthcare is no longer the standard model of care. Under the traditional model, patients choose a doctor through their insurance provider website based on in-network status, acceptance of new patients, and convenient office locations. Typically, a healthy, young family only visits a primary care physician when they need a well-visit or have an illness or injury that needs attention.
However, a shift in demographics is leading to a decline in primary care visits. Patients say it just takes too long to get an appointment to see their PCP. Then, when they get an appointment, they get stuck in the waiting room for what feels like forever. Additionally, when they need to see a physician fast, the primary care physician’s office doesn’t offer walk-in appointments. That’s when patients turn to urgent care centers for their primary care.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 26 percent of adults do not have a primary care physician. That number jumps to almost half among 18- to 29-year-olds.
Additional research also found that from 2008-2016, the percentage of adults who did not visit a primary care provider rose across all age groups, with the highest increase among adults ages 18-34, rising from about 48 to approximately 57 percent.
Niall Brennan, president and CEO of the Health Care Cost Institute stated, “The decline in primary care visits comes at a time when awareness has grown of the role of primary care in prevention and in containing overall medical spending.”
So where do these people go when they need healthcare? Urgent care. JAMA Internal Medicine found that while visits to primary care physicians are declining, the number of people treated at an urgent care center has more than doubled over the past eight years. When urgent care is the only medical care a patient receives, the urgent care center becomes a primary care provider.
Many adults choose to have their family’s primary care needs addressed at urgent care facilities instead of at a primary care physician’s office. When asked why—the answer was nearly universal: convenience. The lack of timely appointments at primary care offices, combined with higher out-of-pocket costs and an increased expectation for quick and accessible care, has led to patients seeking out primary care alternatives.
While urgent care has always filled the gap between primary care and the emergency room, patients are starting to value the convenience of urgent care over the provider continuity that comes with a dedicated primary care physician. AFC Urgent Care offers several primary care services, including routine check-ups, X-rays, lab work, and prescriptions all under one roof, without the need for an appointment. AFC Urgent Care is also open seven days a week with extended hours for early morning and late evening visits.
AFC Urgent Care Lower Macungie has the same staff you’ll find in a primary care physician’s office, including licensed general practitioners, nurses, and support staff. While it can be helpful to have a primary care physician familiar with your health history, for patients and families who only see the doctor occasionally, an urgent care center can fill the need for primary care services.
AFC Urgent Care offers primary and family care services for people of all ages and genders. Most services provided by their primary care physicians can be handled immediately.
Are you suffering from pink eye, an ear infection, or a urinary tract infection? Our physicians can diagnose, treat, and offer valuable information on a variety of diseases and conditions. Has it been a while since your last physical? AFC Urgent Care Lower Macungie can test your heart rate and blood pressure along with your cholesterol and other important health markers.
Many patients choose urgent care centers over traditional office visits for themselves and their families thanks to their convenience, lower cost, and shorter wait times. When researching your primary care options, consider AFC Urgent Care Lower Macungie.
This mom-owned urgent care understands the challenges facing families today and offers the services your family needs at a time that fits your schedule.
Do you use urgent care in place of a primary care physician? Let us know in the comments!