As early as 1847, doctors saw that communities needed an organized and regulated medical practice in their area. This led to the foundation of the American Medical Association (1). Their goals were to promote public health, create standards, and standardize medical education (2). While this method worked for over 100 years, there were still gaps in medical treatment. Preventative medicine, management of chronic conditions, environmental factors and general well-being were sorely neglected.
Medical professionals around the world began to seek solutions to solve these gaps in care. In 1978, members of the World Health Organization from 134 countries met at the International Conference of Primary Health Care to sign the Alma Ata Declaration (3). The document includes that health is the complete state of physical, mental and social well-being. It states that primary care is essential for all people and should be universally accessible across the globe (4).
Over the years, primary care has been fine tuned to fill the needs of patients. Part of this need is access to talking to a doctor virtually. Being able to call a doctor has been shown to date back as early as 1879 (5). There is evidence of telemedicine taking place slowly growing after that point, but it was widely popularized in the 1970s by NASA when they successfully used telemedicine for astronauts (6). Since then, as technology has advanced, so has telemedicine.
Virtual primary care does not necessarily have a definitive history of foundation and development, but its importance has accelerated in the last few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With health concerns and isolation on everyone’s minds, telemedicine flourished. Even as isolation subsides, 43% of adults want to continue to use virtual care services after the pandemic, and 34% would prefer virtual care to an in-person office visit (7). Doctors are also indicating comfort and preference for virtual care with 97% of PCPs using virtual care to treat patients, according to a 2021 survey (8). Combining the benefits of telemedicine with the importance of primary care is a no-brainer.
Virtual primary care from First Stop Health connects patients with a primary care doctor within 3 days, a much shorter wait time than the average 24-day wait period to see a primary care physician in person (9). If members need to talk to a doctor quickly for an urgent visit, they can be connected in 6 minutes on average. Virtual doctors provide everything from lab referrals to medication management and so much more. Patients do not incur the costs and can avoid travel and wait times to see a doctor.