Decreased Attention to Preventative Care Lends to Increased Emergency Room Visits

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Principal Medical Group Provides New Analysis of Statistics Showing Correlation Between Primary Care and Health Outcomes

The model of concierge medicine allows primary care physicians to give their patients the time and attention needed to ensure their health is top notch and keep them out of the emergency room.

As the United States’ healthcare system continues to evolve, so do patient visits to the emergency room. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1997 and 2009 visits to the emergency room increased by 1.8 percent for the overall population and 2.9 percent for those over the age of 65 years[i]. During a similar time span (1980-2008), there was a steady decrease of those who visited their primary care generalists[ii].

“I’m not surprised by the correlation between emergency room and primary care visits. As a primary care physician, I know just how important preventative healthcare is to keeping patients out of the hospital,” said Dr. David J. Jones, a primary care physician and internal medicine specialist at Principal Medical Group, a concierge medicine practice in McLean, Va.

Surprisingly, it seems that patients aren’t ditching care altogether – just their primary care providers. Between 1980-2008 visits to primary care generalists decreased by 6.6 percent (17.7 percent for those over the age of 65) while visits to specialty care physicians increased by 6.6 percent (17.7 percent for those over the age of 65)[iii].

“The switch from primary care physicians to specialists may be related the current shortage of primary care providers in the United States,” suggests Dr. Jones. “But, just as cardiologists specialize in matters of the heart, primary care physicians specialize in internal and preventative care. That’s why it is essential to create a healthcare system that allows patients to access primary care physicians because those are the doctors whose key focus is overall well-being and sustained health.”

As American society inches closer to the predicted shortage of 35,000 to 44,000 primary care generalists by 2025[iv], access to primary care providers will continue to be an obstacle for patients. While long-term solutions are being explored by entities like the Association of American Medical Colleges[v], alternatives, such as the fee-based model of concierge medicine, have started to evolve as a patient option. The model of concierge medicine allows patients easier access to their primary care physician, often offering unhurried, same-day appointments, 24/7 access to their physicians via email or phone and assistance scheduling specialist visits.

“Alternatives to the traditional healthcare model, such as concierge medicine, are essential at this point in time because as patient access to primary care providers deceases, the statistics are showing us that emergency room visits will continue to increase,” said Dr. Jones. “The model of concierge medicine allows primary care physicians to give their patients the time and attention needed to ensure their health is top notch and keep them out of the emergency room.”

For more information about primary healthcare, concierge medicine and important steps patients can take to stay out of the emergency room, visit http://www.principalmedicalgroup.com or call 703-663-8824.

About Principal Medical Group, P.C.
Principal Medical Group is a primary care medicine practice located in the Washington, D.C. metro area. As concierge physicians, Principal Medical Group offers the highest level of care, with same-day appointments, comprehensive, preventive services and 24/7 access. Through its membership model, patients receive personal attention from top doctors during unhurried appointments that start on time. This enables Principal Medical Group’s physicians to partner with patients to manage complex medical conditions, as well as acute care. Learn more about Principal Medical Group and concierge medicine at http://www.principalmedicalgroup.com.

CONTACT:
Tara Goodin
Principal Medical Group Communications
202-591-4041
tara(at)jpa(dot)com

[i] National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2010: With Special Feature on Death and Dying. Hyattsville, MD. 2011.
[ii] National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2010: With Special Feature on Death and Dying. Hyattsville, MD. 2011.
[iii] National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2010: With Special Feature on Death and Dying. Hyattsville, MD. 2011.
[iv] Colwill, J. M., Cultice, J. M., Kruse, R. L. Will Generalist Physician Supply Meet Demands Of An Increasing and Aging Population. Health Affairs. 2008; 27: w232-w241.
[v] Association of American Medical Colleges. Addressing the Physician Shortage Under Reform. Available at: https://www.aamc.org/newsroom/reporter/april11/184178/addressing_the_physician_shortage_under_reform.html. Accessed on March 6, 2012.

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