All interactions a patient has with the healthcare industry begin with access to care. It’s unreasonable to expect patients to be able to receive necessary medical care, develop relationships with their caregivers, and maintain overall wellness if they cannot first schedule an appointment and/or reach their clinician in a timely manner.
Despite the criticality of the matter, many people across the United States still lack access to proper patient care.
What are the major impediments blocking American patients from receiving the primary care they need? Let’s explore.
1. Appointment availability limitations
Most clinics in the U.S. follow standard business hours set by healthcare organizations for patient visits. This 8am/9am to 6pm (in some cases, on weekdays only) timeframe is undoubtedly not helpful for patients who require urgent care or who already have extremely taxing schedules. Instead of offering flexible office hours and end-to-end services to treat patients when they truly need care, the American healthcare system sticks to stringent schedules, outdated systems, and excessive amounts of red tape protocols that block access. As such, there is a prime opportunity for the U.S. to adopt a more modern, patient-centric approach to scheduling that enables patients to access the care they need at the exact moment it’s needed.
2. High cost of medical care
As per the American Medical Association reports, healthcare expenses in the USA rose by 9.7% in 2020. And this is expected to keep rising at 7.1% between 2022 and 2027. Crucial, life-saving procedures — including appendectomies, bypass surgeries, angioplasties, and hip/knee replacements — face the same high-cost issues. However, with the rise of affordable subscription-based prescription plans and healthcare management services (like Renee, the digital personal health concierge company that grants patients access to quality healthcare and medications for only $25/month), Americans can much more easily get prescription refills delivered to their door, receive regular medication alerts to ensure prescription compliance, and book appointments with their primary care physicians that better fit their needs and schedules.
3. Compartmentalized services
Healthcare becomes inefficient when it wastes valuable time and money by forcing patients to go through siloed medical providers to receive various healthcare services. This rigmarole process also puts the patient’s health at risk from avoidable medical errors and hospital readmissions brought on by poor and delayed care. Without an integrated healthcare solution, patients often find it overwhelming to interact with multiple isolated services, resulting in confusion, frustration, and abandoned healthcare services.
4. Transportation problems
A significant infrastructural drawback that American patients face is transportation. Even if/when they are able to book an appointment within the allotted timeframe, they still may be unable to see their doctor in time due to lack of transport or issues that arise during transit. Patients who cannot get to their doctor’s office due to this and other reasons, including physical limitations and/or financial constraints, frequently receive little-to-no care. According to recent data, over 3.5 million patients are unable to access care because they also lack access to affordable transportation to their providers.
One of the key factors influencing a patient’s decision to pursue the healthcare they truly need is the access they have to that care. Among all other access barriers in America, such as fraud and the underutilization of medical professionals, the increasingly high cost of U.S. healthcare is arguably the most prominent access roadblock. This cost reflects both a lack of insurance coverage and high out-of-pocket expenses that fall on the patient to pay. When a person cannot afford the essential care they need (or must choose between paying for other necessities like rent, a mortgage, food, and healthcare), they suffer unnecessarily. A subscription-based system where primary healthcare is conveniently accessible, like Renee, is one practical solution to this problem.