Greater use of primary care can reduce deaths, hospitalizations

As the primary-care workforce continues to be strained, new research shows that areas with higher levels of primary care have fewer patient deaths and preventable hospitalizations, according to a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers evaluated seniors with Medicare benefits who live in areas with higher levels of adult primary care physicians and physicians providing primary care. They found that elder patients were less likely to die or land in the hospital.

"A higher level of primary-care physician workforce, particularly with an FTE measure that may more accurately reflect ambulatory primary care, was generally associated with favorable patient outcomes," said the study authors.

Experts agree that graduating medical students electing other specialties other than primary care results in a primary care vacuum that must be filled.

If the United States could fulfill the primary-care need, it would result in 50,000 fewer deaths and 436,000 fewer hospitalizations in a year, notes Reuters.

To learn more:
- read the JAMA study abstract
- read the Reuters report
- check out the ScienceDaily article