What Has Happened to the Solo Primary Care Clinic?

Available for Interviews: John Rodriguez, MD

Dr. John Rodriguez is a Chief Medical Officer of Healthcare2U, and he is passionate about the care that is provided to their patients. He manages all the care providers in Healthcare2U’s network of clinics and oversees care protocols and training.

What Dr. Rodriguez can say in an interview about
Solo Primary Care Clinic:

The solo, independent primary care physician is disappearing. Being a physician who has struggled to keep clinic doors open and trying to provide solid primary care has been a struggle for many. I have seen many of my fellow primary care friends call it quits. They now work for a hospital or corporate-based clinics, employed as hospitalists and federal, state, and county system employees.

The AMA Physician Practice Benchmark Survey clearly shows the drop in privately run primary care clinics which was accelerated during Covid. The fact is this decline in private practice has been trending for years. The other concern is the declining interest in primary care amongst US medical school grads. A well-done article delineating why med students are not as interested in primary care should also concern us. 

There are so many reasons for the overall decline, but here is what would keep providers happy and satisfied which translates to better patient care.

1) Fewer patients

Currently, most practices see too many patients per day. The reason is multifaceted but the combination of poor insurance reimbursement and high clinic overheads forces providers to “crank them out”. The goal at the beginning of each clinic day is to fill and ‘double book’ appointments. This leads to poor patient experience and provider burnout. Having to see between 20 -30 patients per day is not unusual. Many providers have between 3000 – 5000 patients in their panel.  How to reduce patient volume and making ends meet is challenging but possible. 

2) Increase in the Per-Patient Visit Reimbursement

Because of low insurance reimbursement, providers must see as many patients as possible on any given day. An increase in this reimbursement would allow providers the ability to spend more time with patients and offer the level of service needed to make a proper diagnosis in a more cost-effective manner. 

When I am able to spend more time with patients in my practice, I can ask the right questions which allows me to reduce wasteful testing and consults. I have countless examples of this which develops amazing doctor-patient relationships. There is nothing more gratifying as an Internist when patients come to me for second opinions because their previous provider was “too busy” or “didn’t listen.” That gratification comes when I make the right diagnosis with the proper treatment leading to high patient satisfaction.

3) Same-Day Payments From Insurers

Imagine if restaurant owners or car dealers had to send a ‘claim’ and hope to get paid within 30 days. This is after the customer drives off with the car or restaurant service has been rendered. And what if those claims are ‘denied’ then what do you do? This is a terrible system of payment that is due for reform. It was so bad in Texas that in 1999 the Texas House passed  TEXAS PROMPT PAY ACT. Payors were slow going their payments to providers or weren’t paying at all. In the 1990s providers did not have the luxury of systems that were able to keep up with all the claims sent out and received/denied. We had to hire numerous staff to keep up with this chaotic form of payment. Even today, having a good billing/collections team greatly adds to our overhead. How about if we get paid on the day of service like all other businesses? A novel concept that seems to work for everyone else. This would allow us to reduce our overhead and keep up with the books so we can have a collection rate of > 95%. Unheard of in the traditional practice. 

These are just a few items that would allow primary care practices to remain viable and offer services that will reduce unnecessary testing and referrals to costly specialists. This is the type of medicine I currently practice, and it works!

My patients have trust in me that I will not order tests or medications that are unnecessary. Many of my patients have no insurance at all or are on high-deductible plans so they really appreciate my cost-effective approach. We have a long way to go as a healthcare system but simple solutions like those above are a start.


Interview: John Rodriguez, MD

Dr. John Rodriguez is a Chief Medical Officer of Healthcare2U, and he is passionate about the care that is provided to their patients. He manages all the care providers in Healthcare2U’s network of clinics and oversees care protocols and training.

Dr. Rogriguez co-founded Healthcare2U to ensure that organizations of all sizes and structures have unlimited, nationwide access to affordable and consistent primary and urgent care. He has over 20 years of experience, where he worked in private practice as an attending physician with one of the most prestigious healthcare systems in the country, Baylor Health Care Systems. Dr. Rodriguez and his company have been featured on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends, and in publications like BenefitsPro, America’s Benefit Specialist, and Broker World.

Jo Allison
Managing Editor
Director of Public Relations
Success In Media, Inc.

Leave a Reply