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Report

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Primary Care Practices

02.2021 / By Urban Institute

This report examines primary care physician responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors conducted structured discussions with primary care practices of varying sizes and geographies to assess the pandemic’s impact, both from an operational and financial standpoint. Operationally, the greatest challenges were accessing and acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) and operating without consistent treatment protocols. From a financial perspective, practices pointed to two main sources of relief: the boost in telehealth reimbursement in parity with in-person visits, and the paycheck protection program included in the CARES Act. There was no single response to the crisis, but rather each practice responded according to their own circumstances; this nimbleness allowed them to survive. Practices also anticipate they will continue to deliver a sizeable portion of their services via telehealth in the future, signaling one potential permanent shift as a result of the pandemic.

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