At the 2-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, primary care clinician burnout is at an all-time high, and primary care practices—those still open—are facing staff shortages and an influx of new patients with unmet needs. Despite these challenges though, primary care clinicians are still ensuring that patient needs are prioritized.
These were just a few of the findings from the latest national survey of primary care clinicians conducted by the Primary Care Collaborative in partnership with the Larry A. Green Center. A total of 847 clinicians responded to the survey, conducted February 25 to March 1, 2022. In the slides below, find additional survey results at-a-glance.
Cracks appearing in primary care:
46% of respondents said primary care is crumbling.
>40% said they are mentally and financially fragile.
One-third reported currently denied and/or seriously overdue payments from insurers and health plans.
While fee-for-service is dominant within most payment models for primary care, only 21% of participants find this form of payment sufficient.
More new patients yet practices understaffed:
52% of practices have changed staffing ratios with fewer staff per clinician; only 22% report being fully staffed.
59% of respondents said patient visits take longer as health has worsened due to delays in access to care.
40% reported getting more new patients because of practice closures.
More PCPs leaving the field:
62% had personal knowledge of clinicians who retired early or quit during the pandemic.
29% had personal knowledge of practices that have closed.
25% expect to leave primary care within the next 3 years.
Telehealth expanded access, but challenges persist:
19% expanded use of telehealth to maintain access in the face of limited staffing.
49% reported being motivated to use telehealth because patients really like it.
24% report relying on telehealth (either phone or video) for at least one-third of all patient visits.
Patient needs are still first priority:
69% monitored COVID-19-positive patients at home to prevent use of hospital or specialty care.
47% added or extended services not usually provided to mediate issues of access to care.
72% became more involved in mental health support.
Final thoughts: “Primary care continues to face a policy emergency regardless of when the COVID-19 public health emergency is rescinded. The findings above continue the ongoing narrative captured in over 35,000 responses to this survey since March 2020. Policymakers must respond or watch primary care collapse on their watch.”