SYLACAUGA, Ala. – With the majority of Alabama residents living in medically underserved areas, MainStreet Family Care now offers primary care services. The nationwide shortage of primary care physicians has left Alabama with the sixth-lowest number of doctors per person, but with 16 strategically placed clinics and state-of-the-art technology, MainStreet is positioned to deliver healthcare to the furthest reaches of the state.
Only 178 physicians per 100,000 Alabama residents are available to care for those patients. To meet the healthcare demand, a total 158 more physicians would need to begin practicing in the state. However, the primary care problem is projected to get worse, and by 2030 it is estimated that Alabama will need 612 additional primary care physicians to adequately meet patients’ needs.
“We believe that primary care is the backbone of the healthcare system,” stated MainStreet’s Chief Executive Officer, Sam Eskildsen. “Most healthcare providers agree that early detection and preventative care are essential to keeping people healthy and lowering the overall cost of providing care.”
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, studies suggest that as many as 127,617 deaths per year in the United States could be averted through an increase in the number of primary care physicians available. In areas of the country where there are more primary care providers per person, death rates for cancer, heart disease, and stroke are lower and people are less likely to require hospitalization.
In fact, an increase of one primary care doctor per 10,000 people has been shown to result in:
- 5% decrease in outpatient visits
- 5.5% decrease in inpatient admissions
- 10.9% decrease in ER visits
- 7.2% decrease in surgeries.
“Alabama has a serious shortage of physicians, and our rural areas are hit especially hard,” commented Dr. Timothy Taylor, Chief Medical Officer to MainStreet Family Care. “Many residents have felt the consequences of this primary care shortage whether they’ve experienced long wait times at their local doctor’s office or endured a sickness for days before they’re seen or traveled miles to make an appointment. We’re excited to offer a solution to tackle these issues.”
With a statewide footprint and cutting-edge telemedicine technology, MainStreet Family Care seeks to solve the primary care crisis. MainStreet clinics have begun accepting primary care patients as of this week through their Family Select program. Family Select patients can utilize a MainStreet clinic for a number of ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, annual wellness exams, and other medication management. To accommodate the larger patient volume, MainStreet has developed an online portal that will allow for transparent and efficient primary care management where patients can schedule appointments, request medication refills, view lab results and pay bills. Patients can easily access their information and manage their family’s health in one place. With much of the administrative process handled online, patients can enjoy the same fast and friendly care they have received during urgent care visits while handling their primary care needs.
“Healthcare options help smaller communities survive and thrive,” commented Eskildsen. “We feel that offering primary care not only keeps our families and neighbors healthy, but also helps attract other businesses to the area, providing more jobs and growing the local economy. It all has a ripple effect.”
As rural Alabama’s largest, non-governmental provider of urgent care and primary care services, MainStreet Family Care has always sought to meet Alabama’s healthcare needs. In its first three years, MainStreet answered the need for convenient care in rural communities by opening urgent care locations across the state from Arab to Mobile. Then, seeing a need for after-hours pediatric care, the company launched Alabama’s first pediatric urgent cares. Furthermore, MainStreet implemented the state’s first use of telemedicine in a clinic setting by introducing ClinicConnect, a tool that allows providers to treat more patients by utilizing other MainStreet locations who have availability.
The ClinicConnect system connects to many types of devices and makes the data available to the remote provider, such as stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, dermascope, and high-definition, exam camera. In addition, clinics can transmit all traditional vitals: height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen level, etc. Ultimately, MainStreet Family Care plans to integrate the Family Select program with its ClinicConnect platform which will allow patients to utilize telemedicine from a micro-clinic or even the convenience of their own home. This would increase accessibility two ways: basic healthcare services and specialty care.
The first goal is to increase primary care access to ever smaller rural communities. The company aims to construct a micro-clinic, which will be a condensed version of our current clinics with all the key items such as X-ray, EKG, and lab capabilities. These clinics would be staffed with an onsite registered nurse, specially trained for these environments. Patents come into the clinic and interact with the primary care Doctor via telemedicine with the registered nurse assisting the patient. While not everything is within the scope of this setup, it would nevertheless bring significant primary care access to rural Alabama.
Second, MainStreet Family Care aims to bring specialist care to its communities. Patients will be able to come into a clinic and connect with a remote specialist using the telemedicine cart and platform system. Even routine follows ups and routine condition management patients could connect to their specialist by coming to MainStreet, as opposed to driving hours to a major Alabama city. Current MainStreet clinics are staffed with an onsite medical provider (Doctor or Nurse Practitioner) and robust medical equipment, allowing the remote Doctor to order tests, interaction with the onsite provider, and direct detailed in person, hands on care as they see fit. MainStreet Family Care is actively working on building its specialist network and invite any interested parties to contact them.