The primary care physician may be going the way of the dodo.
More and more millennials are choosing not to have a primary care physician, instead opting to use urgent care centers instead, which offer quicker service and better pricing transparency than a traditional doctor’s office, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Among those between the ages of 18 and 29, 45% said they do not have a primary care physician, compared with 28% of those between the ages of 30 and 49, 18% of those between the ages of 50 and 64, and 12% who were over the age of 65.
“There is a generational shift,” said internist Ateev Mehrotra, an associate professor in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, in a published report. “These trends are more evident among millennials, but not unique to them. I think people’s expectations have changed. Convenience [is prized] in almost every aspect of our lives,” from shopping to online banking.
The downside to such a seismic shift in the doctor-patient relationship may actually be driving up prices and worsening other medical issues, such as the misuse of antibiotics. A lack of coordinated care may cause more problems than the convenience of a quicker appointment solves, according to experts. But the average wait time for an appointment with a primary care doctor has increased to 24 days in 15 major metropolitan areas, from 18.5 days four years ago.
Doctors who have noted this shift are making changes to their practices, hiring more nurse practitioners, expanding their communications to include text messaging, and trying to schedule same-day appointments when possible.