Patients who find it easy to access primary care are more likely to receive selected preventive services
Patients who find it easy to access primary care are more likely to receive cholesterol checks, flu shots, and prostate screenings, but not mammography screenings, according to a new study. Accessibility was considered present if the following first-contact access components were rated 4 or 5 (very good or excellent) on a 5-point scale: availability of medical advice by phone; length of time between making an appointment and the day of visit; length of time spent waiting in the office for the doctor; amount of visit time spent with doctors and staff; hours when the doctor's office is open; convenience of location of the office; ease of seeing the doctor of one's choice; making appointments for care by phone.
Also, the more first-contact access components that were highly rated, the more likely patients were to receive preventive services. For example, patients with at least two accessible components had a 6 percent increase in cholesterol checks, those with at least 6 accessible components had a 9–17 percent increase in flu shots, and those with at least 7 accessible components had a 12–14 percent increase in prostate screening. No significant increase in mammography screening was seen for any number of accessible first-contact access components. This was possibly because the need for mammography screening is well publicized by government agencies and nonprofit organizations, the researchers suggest.
The researchers used members of the 2003-2006 rounds of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study as their subjects for an initial telephone interview, which was followed by a mailed survey. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16181).
More details are in "Number of first-contact access components required to improve preventive service receipt in primary care homes," by Nancy Pandhi, M.D., M.P.H., Jennifer E. DeVoe, M.D., D.Phil., Jessica R. Schumacher, Ph.D., and others in the June 2012 Journal of General Internal Medicine 27(6), pp. 677–684.