A primary care physician (PCP) serves as the first point of contact for patients within the healthcare system. The majority of PCP’s are overwhelmed with too many patients in their practice, making it difficult to provide the quality of care and service that patients deserve. One of the biggest problems is the fact these doctor’s are not available in a timely manner — this negatively impacts the quality if care and service. As an answer to this problem, some doctors have adopted the concierge medicine model. A concierge doctor charges a yearly retainer fee and in turn has fewer patients, improving their availability to their patients. Dr. Guy is a PCP that provides care to patients from Napa; he provides personalized care to his patients .

What Does a PCP do?

Studies associate an increased supply of PCPs with improved public health. Primary care physicians provide comprehensive and continuous care for their patients. This includes preventive care, wellness advice, and treatment of common illnesses and medical conditions. They often serve as the first point of contact for individuals seeking medical attention. PCPs assess and treat a variety of health issues and refer their patients to specialists when necessary.

A PCP focuses on building long-term relationships with their patients. They see their patients regularly and have an in-depth understanding of their health history and healthcare needs. During health checkups, PCPs conduct various health tests to diagnose and monitor health conditions. Primary care physicians also perform health risk assessments and counsel their patients on lifestyle choices and behaviors that can affect their health.

Specialties in Primary Care

Some specialties in primary care include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and sometimes gynecology. Each focus on a different aspect of patient care. Regardless of their speciality, a PCP provides essential health services.

Why is it so Difficult to Find a PCP Nowadays?

Finding a primary care physician (PCP) is becoming more difficult with every passing day due to the following factors:

Shortage of Primary Care Physicians

By 2033, the US is expected to face a shortage of 21k-55k primary care doctors. Many regions, especially rural and underserved urban areas, are already facing a shortage of primary care doctors. This shortage is attributed to various factors including an aging population (both patients and doctors are getting old), a growing emphasis on specialized medicine which draws physicians away from primary care, and fewer medical graduates choosing primary care as a field. A study found that around one-fifth of doctors are planning to leave their current practice and around 33 percent of doctors intend to reduce their work hours by 2024.

Insurance Restrictions

Insurers have a network of doctors and usually do not pay for out of network care, limiting patient options. Finding a PCP who is accepting new patients, is in your insurer’s network, and equipped to meet your specific healthcare needs can be difficult.

Physician Burnout

The increasing administrative workload and pressure on primary care physicians can lead to burnout (In a 2019 study, burnout scores of participating PCPs was up to 79 percent, which is way higher than the ideal burnout score of 28-38 percent). No wonder many doctors want to reduce their patient load, retire early, or switch to specialized fields. Another reason why many PCPs are choosing to retire early is that PCPs have lower salaries than specialists (on average PCPs earn $100k less per annum than specialists). Many hospitals are more than willing to replace PCPs with even lower paid nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who are equipped to provide routine care, but may lack the skills to meet the complicated healthcare needs of patients with chronic/rare conditions.

Increasing Demand for Healthcare Services

The U.S. population is aging. Also, more people now than ever have access to healthcare. An aging population and improved healthcare access have led to an exponential increase in demand for medical services, putting a strain on the healthcare infrastructure. Given the fact that 40 percent of active physicians in the country will be 65 or older by 2032 and ready to retire and there won’t be enough young healthcare professionals entering the field, we can expect an acute shortage of PCPs in the future.

Choose a PCP who has Adopted the Concierge Medicine Model

A primary care physician in a more corporate practice may have up to 2,000 – 3,000 patients on their panel. A concierge doctor in Napa, on the other hand, typically has a panel of 300 patients (they usually see 5-8 patients a day). Concierge doctors in Napa take the time to truly listen to their patients. Many concierge doctors in Napa make house calls for an additional fee and also offer telemedicine services. A concierge doctor offers video consultation, eliminating the need for their patients with minor health problems to travel to their clinic. Fewer patients at a doctor’s clinic = reduced patient wait times.

Finding a Primary Care Doctor

Your primary care doctor is a key player in your healthcare team, so take the time to find the right one. The right PCP can help you prevent and manage health complications and develop a healthcare plan tailored to your needs.

Here are some tips for finding a PCP.

Determine Your Health Care Needs

Evaluate your healthcare needs and then decide what type of primary care doctor can meet them. Family practitioners treat patients of all ages, internal medicine doctors specialize in adult care, and pediatricians provide medical care for children and infants.

Check Your Insurance Network

Have health insurance? Look for a doctor on your insurer’s panel. If you choose an in-network healthcare professional, your insurer will cover your treatment costs.

Consider Location and Convenience

Look for a doctor whose clinic is conveniently located (preferably close to your office or home). At what time does the practice open and close? Does the doctor take patient calls outside of working hours?

Research the Doctors’ Credentials and Experience

Check the doctors’ qualifications, experience, and any reviews or ratings available online. Go to the clinic’s social media profiles and third-party review sites to read customer reviews and check the practice’s BBB-rating.

Dr. Guy is one of the most respected PCPs and concierge doctors in Napa and Sonoma. He is a thorough professional and goes the extra mile to meet his patient’s healthcare needs. To consult him, call 707-938-1255.