Strengthening primary care in the U.S. is key to combat the next wave of COVID-19, Emory experts say

June 10, 2020

By Catherine Morrow

Emory infectious disease experts are calling for a strengthening of traditional primary care in the United States to combat the next wave of COVID-19, because of their ability to reach patients. The article was recently published in the Journal of the Society of General Medicine. 

Lead author Mohammed K. Ali, MBChB, associate professor of global health and epidemiology, says that tapping primary care will also reduce the critical burden on emergency and inpatient services.

The authors write, "Primary care physicians (PCPs) in the USA are uniquely positioned to shoulder greater responsibility during the next phase of COVID-19. PCPs are trusted resources for and claim strong, longitudinal relationships with patients."

PCPs often have a closer relationship with their patients than emergency and inpatient doctors, and therefore can more effectively perform essential functions in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, such as contact tracing and disease surveillance.

Authors also mention that in previous outbreaks such as H1N1 and seasonal influenza, the majority of cases are assessed and managed in primary care settings.

The senior author of the paper is Carlos del Rio, MD, executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System. Deep Shah, MD, division of general internal medicine and geriatrics at Emory University School of Medicine, is a contributing author on the paper.