I was in an E-Strategy Committee Meeting at Wellmont Health System on Monday evening when a physician asked a straight-forward question: “What percentage of patients do not have their own primary care physician?” I told him that I was not sure, but that I would find out. So, this week we surveyed just over 3,000 consumers as to whether or not they had their own primary care physician.
Overall, 71% of survey respondents have their own primary care physician, while 29% do not. When analyzing the results by gender, variation certainly exists. 34.5% of males go without designating a primary care physician as compared to only 24% of females. In other words, a full 76% of females participate in the traditional primary care model.
The results of the survey are much more dramatic when segmenting by age cohort. On one end of the spectrum, among those aged 18 to 24 years old, 41.4% do not have a primary care physician! On the other end of the spectrum, 82.8% of those consumers 65 and older have their own primary care physician. As we analyzed the results from the 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 age cohorts, dedication to the traditional primary care model increased with the age of the consumer.
Consumers in the Northeast had the highest percentage with a primary care physician at 75.7%. Patients in the South had the lowest percentage with 32.4% of people not having a primary care physician. The Midwest and West results were similar to the national findings.
Back to the original question, is traditional primary care a durable model?
I believe the answer is yes, but for a shrinking percentage of your overall patient base. Hospitals and health systems need to think about their customer base in a segmented fashion in order to offer services in the way that their disparate customers would like. Segmenting the consumer by gender, age, income and proximity to health services typically yields wildly different answers to the same question.
If you have any questions or would like to see the results of our study based on your particular state, please contact Shane Foreman at 312-423-2671 / firstname.lastname@example.org or Brittany Foreman at 281-750-5614 / email@example.com.