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The Growing Strain on Primary Care 

The Growing Strain on Primary Care 

By February of 2022, Ella, a 25-year-old behavioral interventionist in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was sick with strep-like symptoms for the third time in 3 months. She didn’t bother to call her doctor. This scenario reflects a larger issue in primary care – the struggle to access timely and consistent healthcare. Ella’s experience of trying to schedule appointments with long waits and resorting to urgent care as her primary care reflects a trend seen across the United States. 

The Challenge of Accessing Primary Care 

Primary care is in crisis. According to a 2024 report, a significant percentage of adults and children don’t have a regular source of care. Even those with primary care providers face long wait times for both sick visits and wellness checkups. This growing strain on primary care stems from a shortage of providers coupled with systemic issues like reimbursement models and administrative burdens, making it challenging for patients like Ella to establish and maintain a consistent healthcare relationship. 

Addressing the Crisis in Primary Care 

The road ahead for primary care involves systemic reforms, including higher reimbursement rates and restructuring payment models to incentivize comprehensive care. Additionally, the role of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants becomes crucial in bridging the gap and improving access to primary care. These healthcare professionals, often more accessible and flexible than traditional physicians, can play a significant role in providing timely and quality care to patients, easing the burden on the strained primary care system. 

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