These are all phrases that come to mind when thinking about the state of healthcare in America.
It’s the same harrowing story we read in the news each day: people age 65+ are expected to reach 22% of the U.S. population by 2040 and approximately 85% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, while 60% have at least two chronic conditions. By 2034, the U.S. may face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians, meanwhile, 30% of all rural hospitals are at immediate risk of shutting down due to labor costs and inflation.
At Surescripts, it's our job to help write a better ending to this story by supporting the evolution of care teams across the country.
Surescripts Network Alliance partners are focused on doing just that: addressing healthcare’s shared challenges with shared health intelligence aimed at better, safer, less costly care in America.
How are Care Teams Evolving to Fill Primary Care Gaps?
New data and analysis shows national and county-by-county level opportunities to improve access to primary care.
In a recent report, Surescripts shared data and analysis based on population and geography. The result? We effectively measured the gaps in primary care and opportunities for evolving care teams to fill those gaps:
- Nearly half of all U.S. counties, 3,233 in total, have too few primary care providers (PCPs), with just one PCP for every 1,500 people.
- Pharmacists have opportunities to fill gaps in primary care: 61% of counties with a relative PCP shortage also have a high or medium volume of retail pharmacies, an opportunity for pharmacists to address unmet needs in patient care—with many in rural areas of the Midwest and South.
This new data illustrates an incredible opportunity we have to tap into the clinical expertise of our pharmacists as care teams continue to evolve.
Pharmacists have commanded the trust of patients for a long time, but it grew even stronger during the pandemic, when pharmacists stepped in to deliver quality, accessible care when patients couldn’t get to their PCPs.
“We are committed to working with Surescripts to address healthcare’s shared challenges with shared health intelligence aimed at better, safer, less costly care,” said Dr. Eric Weidmann. Chief Medical Officer, CGM eMDs/APRIMA. “We need to come together in support of new policies, payment reform and products to successfully expand primary care access for every patient.”
We can help maintain this trust by better enabling pharmacists with new technology and expanded interoperability that will allow them go beyond filling prescriptions to filling gaps in care, ensuring patients have access to better-informed, less costly, comprehensive care—no matter where they live.
“There are opportunities emerging for pharmacists to practice at the full scope of their license, providing care that compliments physicians’ treatment plans and filling gaps in access to care.”
“There are opportunities emerging for pharmacists to practice at the full scope of their license, providing care that compliments physicians’ treatment plans and filling gaps in access to care,” said Dr. Anita Patel, Pharm.D. and Vice President of Pharmacy Services Development at Walgreens.
Patel added, “technology and appropriate patient information will allow pharmacists to provide clinical care, including immunizations, medication counseling and important health screenings, allowing them to serve as effective members of patient care teams, improving healthcare in a different way than before.”
The ink has yet to dry on this page of healthcare in America. We have real opportunity for stakeholders across the industry to act, supporting new policies, payment reform and products needed to finish the story – one we can all feel proud to tell where clinicians are empowered to work collaboratively to provide accessible, affordable, quality healthcare for their patients.