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PCP Relationships Matter, But So Does Convenience

By Debra Shute  
   September 29, 2017

Six in 10 patients with a primary care provider feel cared about by their doctor, but the same proportion would go to an urgent care center to avoid hassles at the PCP office.

Although healthcare consumers are increasingly taking advantage of retail clinics and urgent care centers for their outpatient needs, patients value relationships with primary care providers (PCPs) slightly more than convenience, suggests a study was conducted earlier this year by Harris Poll on behalf of Mercy Health System of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Related: CVS Pharmacy Launching Automated Retail Vending Machines

Key findings from the survey of 1,735 U.S. adults who have a primary care physician include the following:

  • Six in 10 (59%) of respondents believe their PCP cares about them, while 49% believe their PCP knows them personally.
  • Three-quarters of adult patients know the name of their PCP, while just 15% know the name of the person who treated them most recently at a retail clinic, and 12% recall the name of their caregiver at an urgent care center.
  • However, 61% of respondents said they would favor an urgent care center over their PCP for minor issues if making an appointment with their PCP was too cumbersome (41%) or if there is a long wait once in their PCP’s office (28%).

"We wanted to enhance our understanding of dynamics that affect interactions between patients and their PCPs," said William J. Strimel, DO, President, Mercy Physician Network.

"The research findings show that both patients and physicians need to work harder to communicate to take advantage of the benefits offered by the more personal relationships patients can enjoy with their PCPs."

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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