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J Am Board Fam Med ; 35(3): 527-536, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1875335


PURPOSE: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in unprecedented adoption and implementation of virtual primary care services, and little is known about whether and how virtual care services will be provided after the pandemic ends. We aim to identify how administrators at health care organizations perceive the future of virtual primary care services. METHODS: In March-April of 2021, we conducted semistructured qualitative phone interviews with administrators at 17 health care organizations that ranged from multi-state nonfederal delivery systems to single-site primary care practices. Organizations differed in size, structure, ownership, and geography. We explore how health care administrators anticipate their organization will offer virtual primary care services after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. RESULTS: All interviewed administrators expected virtual primary care services to persist after the pandemic. We categorize expected impact of future virtual services as limited (n = 4); targeted to a narrow set of clinical encounters (n = 5); and a major shift in primary care delivery (n = 8). The underlying motivation expressed by administrators for providing virtual care services was to remain financially stable and competitive. This motivation can be seen in the 3 main goals described for their anticipated use of virtual services: (1) optimizing medical services; (2) enhancing the patient experience; and (3) increasing loyalty among patients. CONCLUSIONS: Health care organizations are considering how virtual primary care services can be used to improve patient outcomes, access to care, and convenience of care. To implement and sustain virtual primary care services, health care organizations will need long-term support from regulators and payers.

COVID-19 , Administrative Personnel , COVID-19/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care , Humans , Pandemics , Primary Health Care
J Gen Intern Med ; 36(7): 1951-1957, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1061194


BACKGROUND: Social isolation is a known predictor of mortality that disproportionately affects vulnerable populations in the USA. Although experts began to recognize it as a public health crisis prior to 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic has accelerated recognition of social isolation as a serious threat to health and well-being. OBJECTIVE: Examine patient experiences with screening and assistance for social isolation in primary care settings, and whether patient experiences with these activities are associated with the severity of reported social isolation. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey conducted in 2018. PARTICIPANTS: Adults (N = 251) were recruited from 3 primary care clinics in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. MAIN MEASURES: A modified version of the Berkman-Syme Social Network Index (SNI), endorsed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; items to assess for prior experiences with screening and assistance for social isolation. KEY RESULTS: In the sample population, 12.4% reported the highest levels of social isolation (SNI = 0/1), compared to 36.7%, 34.7%, and 16.3% (SNI = 2-4, respectively). Most patients had not been asked about social isolation in a healthcare setting (87.3%), despite reporting no discomfort with social isolation screening (93.9%). Neither discomfort with nor participation in prior screening for social isolation was associated with social isolation levels. Desire for assistance with social isolation (3.2%) was associated with a higher level of social isolation (AOR = 6.0, 95% CI, 1.3-28.8), as well as poor or fair health status (AOR = 9.1; 95% CI, 1.3-64.1). CONCLUSIONS: In this study, few patients reported being screened previously for social isolation in a primary care setting, despite low levels of discomfort with screening. Providers should consider broadening social isolation screening and referral practices in healthcare settings, especially among sicker and more isolated patients who express higher levels of interest in assistance with social isolation.

COVID-19 , Social Isolation , Adult , Chicago , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , Patient Outcome Assessment , Primary Health Care , SARS-CoV-2 , San Francisco