Major Changes Coming to Primary Care

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For more than a decade, Medicare officials and healthcare policymakers have told the medical establishment that the primary goal must be to keep people healthy and out of hospitals, and to help patients manage their chronic conditions so as to avoid acute events. 

Stated another way, the goal is to shift the U.S. healthcare system into a proactive mode, where the objective of caregivers is to actively engage patients and help them with specific medical issues such as: 

• getting necessary screening and diagnostic procedures in a timely fashion, 

• quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising, etc., and, 

• closely monitoring chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, etc., so as to prevent the need for hospitalizations and similar major interventions. 

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the U.S. primary care workforce includes approximately 209,000 practicing primary care physicians, 56,000 nurse practitioners (NPs), and 30,000 physician assistants (PAs) practicing primary care, for a total of nearly 295,000 primary care professionals. 

Primary care is a huge industry! As you will read in the first intelligence briefing in our new series about changes coming to primary care, some of the nation’s largest corporate pharmacy and grocery chains are interested in adding full-service primary care clinics to their retail stores. (See article here.) 

This has many implications for clinical laboratories. For example, it means that primary care physicians, NPs, and PAs working in these in-store clinics will probably be employees of those corporations. It also means that big corporations will be the buyers of any lab tests ordered by the primary care providers in their clinics. 

The Dark Report will publish at least four installments in this important series to describe why new big players will be ordering large volumes of clinical laboratory tests, why faster time-to-answer for lab results will encourage them to establish in-clinic labs, and why Millennials will be major patrons of in-store primary care clinics. Each installment will help you and your lab’s executive team understand this new development so that you can develop appropriate strategies. 

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