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Finding a primary care doctor easily with Accolade

November 06, 2020 | 3 min read

Being healthy isn’t something people wake up and decide to do one day — instead, it’s the culmination of many small decisions made over the course of time, like getting regular physicals and monitoring changes in the body.  

A number of these decisions are easier to make when patients have a primary care provider (PCP), someone who understands their background, their medical history and who they have a relationship with. Whether in-person or virtual, the PCP relationship is among the most important connections in healthcare. 

That’s because primary care providers are typically medical generalists who serve as the first point of contact for multiple touchpoints in the healthcare system, whether that means providing treatment for a sore throat or advising a patient on when to get a cancer screening. Whatever a patient’s healthcare journey is, chances are that it started with a visit to their PCP. 

The importance of primary care providers

The impact that primary care providers can have on health outcomes is positive and well-established. Studies have long shown that in areas where it’s easier to access primary care overall mortality rates are lower, including deaths attributed to conditions like cancer and heart disease. 

In addition to improving outcomes, there’s evidence that access to primary care helps patients access preventive treatments and aids in detecting serious health problems early, when they can be more effectively addressed. 

A trusting relationship with a primary care provider isn’t only about one-on-one interactions. In an era where medical misinformation is widely disseminated and often hard to identify, people who have a doctor they know and trust gives them somewhere to turn for reliable medical advice. 

Unfortunately, the number of Americans who have a primary care physician is on the decline. 

Access to primary care is in decline

While urgent care offices and emergency rooms are important ways for patients to access timely treatment for acute conditions, they’re not meant to be the primary destination for healthcare. Unfortunately, emergency room use is on the rise, while the number of Americans who have a primary care physician fell from 77% in 2002 to 75% in 2015.

While a 2% decline may not seem like cause for alarm, that seemingly small figure represents millions fewer Americans who have a primary care provider – someone who understands not only their immediate healthcare needs but has context for them. Compounding the issue, primary care doctors became less common in the U.S. over a similar timeframe: Between 2005 and 2015, the rate of primary care doctors per 100,000 people fell from 46.6 to 41.4. 

Accessing virtual primary care with Accolade

These declining numbers mean that people across the country are having a tougher time accessing primary care. That’s why Accolade’s solutions, like Accolade Care, feature virtual primary care options that let people connect with a primary care physician via phone or online chat from the comfort of their own home, often on the same day they make the appointment.  


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