primary-care physician closed up shop? It’s happening all over the country. Walgreens WBA, +1.06% announced last month that it will start operating primary-care physician services at some of its stores. They will operate differently from traditional walk-in care facilities at pharmacies where people typically go when they have an immediate health problem.
Care facilities at pharmacies
The offices will be 2,500 square feet, and have a separate entrance, plus connecting doors to Walgreens. Patients (and Walgreens customers) can go there for their annual check-up and get referrals for specialists, just like they would do at the family doctor. They will initially be available at five stores in Houston. Therefore The primary-care offices will be provided by Walgreens in partnership with VillageMD, a national provider of primary care.
The doctors at these locations in Houston will work with nurses, social workers and Walgreens pharmacists. The move is an attempt to address the decline in primary-care doctors. Patients are looking for more high quality primary care, said Patrick Carroll, Walgreens’ chief medical officer. He said both companies want to create “neighborhood health destinations.”
Office visits to primary-care physicians, doctors who often have an intimate knowledge of their patient’s history, declined 18% over a four-year period for adults under 65, according to the Health Care Cost Institute. Office visits to nurse practitioners and physician assistants spiked 129%.
High quality primary care
An increasing number of employer-sponsored health insurance enable people to go directly to a specialist and avoid paying extra for a primary-care physician. But the dramatic increase in visits to nurse practitioners and physician assistants did not result in cost savings, the institute said.
There’s also more financial incentive to avoid the traditional vocation as a family doctor. Orthopedic surgeons make between $374,550 and $616,360 a year; according to Salary.com, while primary-care physicians make between $177,370 and $231,107 Primary-care physicians face additional time and expense managing their practice, and often have a fluctuating income. Doctors who leave medical school with a large amount of student debt may also prefer the stable income of a job in a hospital; with the prospect of advancement.
More doctors with financially successful practices in areas with more high-income patients are transitioning to a concierge service to help cover their rent and other costs. Because Those who can’t afford that may end up going to urgent care facilities or traveling farther to a new primary-care doctor.
American Medical Colleges
The average student-loan debt for four years of medical school; undergraduate studies and higher education was $196,520 last year, up from $190,694 in 2017; according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Therefore (It was even higher for dental school: $287,331.) Still, young doctors are under pressure to earn big bucks. “With a $197,000 student-loan balance, you would owe $2,212 a month on the standard, 10-year federal repayment plan; assuming a 6.25% average interest rate,” according to a calculation by the personal-finance site Nerd Wallet.
Patients will ultimately pay a price. The Association of American Medical Colleges forecasts a primary-care shortage of up to 1122,000 physicians by 2032; according to data released by the Association of American Medical Colleges last month. “The nation’s population is growing and aging, and as we continue to address population health goals like reducing obesity and tobacco use; more Americans will live longer lives. Because These factors and others mean we will need more doctors;” said Darrell Kirch; the association’s president and CEO said in a statement. “America’s doctor shortage continues to remain real and significant.”