As the PCP shortage worsens, organizations increasingly rely on midlevel providers to meet patient demand and staff alternative primary care sites, which are projected to expand rapidly across the next decade.
However, many patients remain unfamiliar with midlevel clinicians and the services they provide—not surprisingly, given the variation in scope of practice by state and institution. As a result, some patients avoid seeking care from midlevel providers, seeking a physician’s care even for routine and low-acuity services.
We outline ways that progressive institutions are using midlevel marketing to increase their primary care utilization and improve the patient experience.
Use midlevel marketing tactics to drive primary care utilization
In our 2012 Growth Survey, we found that our members are shifting their strategy to accomodate new market incentives. In addition to the technology and programmatic investment trends we reported earlier, we also noticed that providers are increasingly prioritizing investments in primary care capacity.
A shift from inpatient, specialty investments to care management, patient access
While nearly 30% of respondents intend to invest in additional acute care capacity, that number is dwarfed by the 77% of providers intending to add primary care physician offices as part of their growth strategy.
Similarly, four-fifths of institutions report seeking increased employment of primary care physicians across 2012.
Primary care strategy must grow patient panel, loyalty while reducing utilization through better care management
Building investment strategy around primary care is risky. Though primary care is not a high-profit service by itself, deliberate investments in primary care can turn into a financially viable strategy if the investments effectively grow the organization’s patient panel and help build patient loyalty to the organization. But health systems often pursue primary care expansion without a clear guiding strategy, ultimately resulting in haphazard and unprofitable investment.
Competition for primary care volume and capacity will continue to increase, further heightening the need to strategically deploy assets. Emerging payment models also require health systems to collaborate with primary care providers to improve patient health beyond the acute care setting and reduce utilization through improved care management.
Three keys to an effective network strategy
Given the importance of primary care investments, institutions must develop a principled network strategy to remain competitive. That strategy must include strong leadership structures, selective partnerships, and proactive patient outreach.
Learn more at our national meeting
Marketing and Planning Leadership Council members interested in learning more about effectively structuring primary care networks can register for the Council’s on-going national meeting series.
- If you are interested in learning more about the Marketing and Planning Leadership Council, please contact Eric Cragun (email@example.com) for more information.
Worksite clinics are a significant focus of our research for the 2012 Marketing and Planning Leadership Council national meeting series, which will launch this spring.
Staging for accountable payment structures
Most health systems are not making margins on these worksite clinics; rather, they expect to benefit from improved patient recruitment and retention within the employee base. Additionally, the worksite clinic model provides an opportunity to prepare for accountable payment structures—or reap savings achieved for the employee base where such structures already exist—improving system readiness for coming changes.
Worksite clinics: Which model is right for you?