Poll: Primary care clinicians under continued stress related to COVID-19

Twenty percent of clinicians are considering leaving primary care, according to a recent survey from the Larry A. Green Center in partnership with the Primary Care Collaborative (PCC).

The poll surveyed 636 primary care clinicians from 47 states on questions related to the challenges and pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent survey was the 19th in a series of weekly polls fielded by the two organizations to understand the impact of COVID on primary care clinicians and patients.

 

 

The survey notes that in the past month, 2% of practices have closed and another 2% are considering bankruptcy.

Eighty-nine percent of clinicians reported they have confidence that their practices will be able to stay open over the next four weeks – a marked improvement from surveys fielded earlier in the pandemic. In a similar survey from April, 20% of primary care practices predicted they would have to close within 4 weeks.

Over half of respondents (56%) reported their levels of strain in due to COVID-related impacts were at either a 4 or 5 out of 5 in the past month. Forty-seven percent of practices have had clinicians or staff out due to illness or self-quarantine, 34% have reduced the number of services offered to patients, 24% have shutdown pre-pandemic quality initiatives, and 21% have had layoffs or furloughs. According to survey data, over a quarter of practices (28%) have had a 30-50% drop-in fee-for-services revenue and 46% have seen a similar drop in patient volume.

Clinicians also report they are seeing increases in social insecurities and mental health concerns among their patients. Eighty-six percent report they are seeing higher levels of mental health concerns, 58% are seeing an increase in struggle to pay bills, 40% see an increase in substance abuse, and 38% see an increase in housing security.

The Green Center and PCC will release the next survey in this series on September 18.