Estimation of the Time Needed to Deliver the 2020 USPSTF Preventive Care Recommendations in Primary Care

Am J Public Health. 2021 Jan;111(1):145-149. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2020.305967. Epub 2020 Nov 19.


Objectives. To reexamine the time required to provide the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)-recommended preventive services to a nationally representative adult patient panel of 2500.Methods. We determined the required time for a single physician to deliver the USPSTF preventive services by multiplying the eligible population, annual frequency, and patient-contact time required for each recommendation, all calculated by using data from the recommendations themselves and literature. We modeled a representative panel of 2500 adults based on the 2010 US Census Bureau data.Results. To deliver the USPSTF recommended preventive services across a 2500 adult patient panel would require 8.6 hours per working day, accounting for 131% of available physician time. Compared with 2003, there are fewer recommendations in 2020, but they require 1.2 more physician patient-contact hours per working day.Conclusions. The time required to deliver recommended preventive care places unrealistic expectations on already overwhelmed providers and leaves patients at risk. This is a systems problem, not a time-management problem. The USPSTF provides a set of recommendations with strong evidence of positive impact. It is imperative that our health care system is designed to deliver.

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Preventive Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Preventive Health Services / standards
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / standards
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data