The United States is adopting a new model of primary care built around patients, and their perspectives on health care providers offer valuable insight into increasing the quality and affordability of care.

  • Patients highly value the additional education and training that physicians receive. According to two consecutive surveys, 90% of patient respondents stated that a physician’s additional years of medical education and training are vital to optimal patient care, especially in the event of a complication or medical emergency.
  • Quality and safety are top concerns for patients. Three out of 4 patients stated that they prefer to be treated by a physician even if it takes longer to get an appointment and even if it costs more.
  • Confusion about health care provider qualifications abounds among patients. In a 2010 patient survey:
    • 26% of patients thought that nurse practitioners were medical doctors.
    • 35% of respondents thought that a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) was a physician.
    • 90% of respondents stated that they would support legislation to require all health care providers to clearly designate their level of education, skills, and training in their offices and promotional materials.
  • The physician-patient relationship remains central to the whole person health care experience. A Colorado study found that:
    • 68% of patients felt that family physicians were most likely to understand their entire health background, while only 11% felt the same about nurse practitioners.
    • 72% of patients indicated that physicians were their most trusted source for health care information; 6% of patients identified nurse practitioners as their most trusted source.

Patients want access to the highest quality care at an affordable price. Solutions to the primary care shortage must consider patient perspectives and the high value they place on physician-led teams.