Primary Care Survey Raises Doubts About Readiness to Re-Open Country With Persistent Lack of COVID-19 Testing

Today's results are part of ongoing poll of practices and their response to COVID-19

The Primary Care Collaborative (PCC), in partnership with The Larry A. Green Center, today released results of a real-time survey of primary care clinicians conducted April 17-20, measuring the impact of COVID-19 on their practices. 
In this sixth consecutive week of the survey, the results underscore that the country does not seem to have good information about the prevalence of COVID-19, raising questions about whether it is safe to resume the economy. A third of the responding primary care clinicians say they do not have adequate testing capabilities, and 50% do not have adequate personal protective equipment that makes testing possible. 

The survey also found that many primary care offices, where testing of many Americans would take place, are on the brink of financial collapse; 42% say they need to lay off or furlough staff. Clinicians report in the survey that people with vulnerabilities, such as mental health challenges, lost employment, or those who have weak social supports (including the elderly) are at a particularly high health risk.

“The picture in primary care remains grim,” said Rebecca Etz, PhD, Co-Director of The Larry A. Green Center and Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Population Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “Clinicians are under siege, especially financially, and the burdens on patients are only getting heavier. Yet staff on the health care front lines continue to heroically respond to their patients.” 

“The stimulus package just passed by Congress must direct at least some of the funds to primary care testing and PPE,” said Ann Greiner, President and CEO of the Primary Care Collaborative. “Policymakers also need to provide relief to primary care practices immediately to assure that the nation’s front door to health remains open to address patients with varied social, behavioral and clinical needs and to help assure Americans that it is safe to return to work and school.” 

This week’s survey results reflect input from 1,047 primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and PAs. Responses covered 48 states and Washington, D.C. Respondents’ specialties include family medicine (69%), pediatrics (14%), internal medicine (12%), geriatrics (4%), and other (3%). Practice settings varied, with about a third of practices owned by the respondent; just over a quarter “independent or part of a larger group”; and 42% owned by a hospital or health system. Ten percent of clinicians work in a convenience care setting described as retail, urgent, or walk-in. A fifth of respondents work in a rural setting. 

Visit PCC’s web page on the report for:  

  • Executive summary of the survey
  • Full details of the survey
  • Infographic on the survey’s results 

Experts are available to provide insight and comment on the survey:   

  • Ann Greiner, MCP, President & Chief Executive Officer, Primary Care Collaborative
  • Rebecca S. Etz, PhD, Co-Director of The Larry A. Green Center and Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Population Health at Virginia Commonwealth University 

If you would like to speak with either of these experts, please contact: 
Stephen Padre 
Communications Manager, Primary Care Collaborative 

This survey is conducted weekly, and results are reported on the Larry A. Green Center and PCC websites

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