Patients prefer primary care, family medicine when facing complex chronic conditions

January 7, 2014

One study suggests that when it comes to managing hypertension, nearly 69% of patients visited a primary care physician compared to 24% who visited a specialist.

With much debate about the role of primary care physicians in the changing healthcare landscape, patients have made it clear that they prefer them to specialists when dealing with complex chronic illnesses.

When facing the top 14 chronic illnesses, patients prefer to see primary care and family physicians than specialists, according to a series of reports released by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM) in January. One study suggests that when it comes to managing hypertension, nearly 69% of patients visited a primary care physician compared to 24% who visited a specialist; more than half of diabetes patients and 85% of both asthma and COPD patients also saw primary care physicians, according to data analyzed for the study from the 2008 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

“Primary care physicians might be referred to as ‘complex care physicians,’ particularly considering that they also are charged with identifying patient needs, offering preventive services, coordinating with community and public health resources, and facilitating behavior change,” stated the authors of the study.

Another study in the JABFM series calls family physicians “quality of care advancement experts,” as they are 2.5 times more likely to address nongynecological health problems during preventive gynecological visits.

“This suggests seeing an obstetrician-gynecologist for preventive gynecologic visits also would increase costs because the patient must then see another provider for the additional problems,” the study’s authors said.