"The reality is that some medical issues can be provided in different locations, [such as] flu shots," says Blackwelder, who is also a practicing family physician in Kingsport, TN.
"The challenge is it goes back to the fragmentation of the system. I don't know, in Kingsport, if my patient has gotten the flu vaccine somewhere else. Part of this transformation to team-based care is making sure we have systems in place so that accessing healthcare is communicated back to my office because again, I'm the physician leader of the team and I want to know what's going on with my patients."
Blackwelder, and the AAFP, for that matter, are not anti-NP. Non-physician providers have an important role to play as part of a team, he says.
"The survey demonstrates patients overwhelmingly want to see physicians… almost three-quarters want to see a physician for their healthcare needs, and nine out of ten want a physician to be a leader of that team, and that's an aspect that's not usually a part of retail clinics," says Blackwelder.
He believes solving the problem of the primary doc shortage will come from payment reform and restructuring the healthcare system to a team-based approach. Doctors have been waiting on the former for nearly 10 years, and the latter is far off.
With more patients and healthcare consumers soon expected to fill providers' waiting rooms, demand may drive preference. And it is likely to happen before the industry is ready.