Accelerating Cycles of Primary Care Decline
Disruptive innovation was created as an attractive term, but innovation that is disruptive fits primary care best at the present time in the United States. Innovation is actually distracting and distorting primary care away from solutions. The last three innovative primary care training forms (NP, PA, MPD) are 60 – 75% not primary care in contributions over a career. This is a contrast with 60 – 75% primary care at their beginnings decades ago. Such rapid declines are not the result of a single cause and effect. Multiple factors accelerate the cycles of primary care decline.
Some of these changes actually accelerate primary care decline on their own. Others work to decrease primary care workforce capacity and cascade to result in another downward cycle.
This is an outline page indicating the first few factors involved in primary care decline by design.
The United States Design includes
- Ever Higher Costs of Primary Care Delivery - force cuts in personnel, less support, less volume, repeat cycle of decline - a 12% annual cost increase for 6 years doubles the cost of delivering primary care. Coupled with a freeze in primary care fees or a minimal increase, the cost of delivering primary care will continue to kill off primary care delivery and workforce.
- More Primary Care Cost Types - More types of personnel or equipment often not specific to primary care delivery, less budget remaining for primary care specific personnel, cuts, declines in primary care fees and delivery, repeat cycle of decline
- Flexible Primary Care Training + US Policy + Voluntary Choice - This is a policy driven equation for the United States that by its very nature has resulted in ever less primary care per graduate arising from primary care graduates. Tracking class years over time the US primary care per graduate level has declined to one-third the 1980 graduate level or from 18 SPCYrs down to 7 for recent graduates. Graphic Listed
- Dysfunctional Primary Care Training – drives residents and medical students away from primary care (Keirns, Academic Medicine) - situations played out right in front of medical students are not a good idea for primary care career selection or retention
- Hamstrung Primary Care Workforce – Top priorities of insurance and government have been cost cutting for 30 years with worsening in the past 15 and worsening in most recent years. The primary care nurse is a primary example of a primary care professional that cannot participate as actively in direct patient care delivery due to the design. The design forces nurses to contact insurance companies just to get needed prescriptions, referrals, hospitalizations, goods, and services. Also they must collect information needed for care from our fragmented system. New jobs and duties such as risk management also are about cost cutting, not care delivery. What helps fail primary care is primary care professionals that are forced to do other activities other than delivering primary care - by the US designs that have been cost cutting in nature for 30 years. SMART designs are specific to enhance primary care delivery - not defeat it before it can arise.
- Training of Primary Care Is Not Primary Care Specific – Training has never been SMART or primary care specific for RN, MD, DO, NP, and PA. For 100 years the focus has moved ever more hospital and academic and subspecialty. The models that are different and are primary care specific are few and small in number, in numbers of graduates, and in national impact. The training in any training program will be shaped by the outcomes of the graduates. With fewer entering primary care and even fewer remaining in primary care, the training changes to fit graduate needs. If this is not so, the program dies for lack of graduates as graduates are interested in preparing for the jobs that exist and that allow them to do well. When programs send a minority in primary care and those attracted desire non-primary care careers, the program composition will change to fit non-primary care. Only a permanent primary care source can withstand this. Of course this is why family medicine has been a lower priority choice - due to its permanent primary care outcomes.
This is just a beginning of cycles of decline. Anyone trying to tell you that the US has more primary care or that primary care is doing well
- is selling something.