TUESDAY, Dec. 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — There was a national decline in adult primary care visits from 2007 to 2016, but the decline was associated with a simultaneous uptick in longer visits with electronic follow-up, according to a study published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Aarti Rao, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and colleagues used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (83,368 visits, unweighted; 2007 to 2016) to calculate adult visits per capita to primary care.

The researchers found that visits per capita declined by 20 percent (−0.25 visits per person) during the study period, while visit duration increased by 2.4 minutes per visit. Primary care physicians (PCPs) addressed 0.30 more diagnoses per visit and 0.82 more medications. Additionally, PCPs provided 0.24 more preventive services per visit. There was a 6 percent decline in visits with scheduled PCP follow-up, while PCPs reporting use of electronic medical records increased by 44.3 percent and those reporting use of secure messaging increased by 60.9 percent.

“The decline in primary care visit rates may be explained in part by PCPs offering more comprehensive in-person visits and using more non-face-to-face care,” the authors write.

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