Meeting the Nation’s Primary Care Needs

Angela Patterson, DNP, FNP-BC, NEA-BC, and Chief Nurse Practitioner Officer of MinuteClinic, offers her thoughts on how future primary care provider shortages will affect health care, and what CVS Health is doing to help.

It’s well established that the demand for physicians in the United States is outpacing the supply. In fact, the Association of American Medical Colleges recently released data revealing that by 2025, we face a shortfall of up to 94,700 physicians overall, including up to 35,600 primary care physicians.

While these figures may seem alarming at first glance, they reflect the changing face of the medical profession in the United States. Gone are the days of house calls by a local doctor with prescription pad in hand. Today, our health care provider ecosystem — more commonly known as the “medical neighborhood” — includes primary and specialty care physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, pharmacists, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, and a host of other care providers. Making better use of the providers in the medical neighborhood can help fill the gaps as demand for primary care grows.

A Team-Based Solution

Team-based care not only improves care coordination, it expands access and promotes efficiency, especially when each health care provider is able to work at the highest level permitted by his or her education and training. With thousands of providers on the front lines of delivering high-quality, affordable health care, CVS Health is playing an important role in supporting primary care within the medical neighborhood:

  • Our pharmacists in more than 9,600 CVS Pharmacy locations provide care, medication and counsel to patients every day, promoting medication adherence and closing gaps in care.
  • Nurse practitioners and physician assistants at our more than 1,100 MinuteClinic locations diagnose and treat common health conditions and minor injuries, perform health screenings, assess and monitor chronic conditions, provide wellness services and deliver vaccinations. More than 30 million patient visits have taken place at MinuteClinic.
  • Through affiliations with nearly 70 major health systems, CVS Health has established collaborative programs, including the development of joint clinical programs and electronic health records integration, to connect care across the health continuum.

Supporting Primary Care

We believe all patients should have access to a primary care provider-led medical home, and to coordinated, continuous care. For the 50 percent of MinuteClinic patients who do not have a primary care provider, we help connect them to available providers in their communities. In addition, we support educational efforts such as the Health is Primary campaign, which provides resources to consumers on when, where and how to access services offered through the medical neighborhood.

By combining a focus on primary care with our suite of best-in-class pharmacy and health interventions, CVS Health is proud to help build a more coordinated and efficient health care system, which can benefit patients, providers and payers alike.