Why Primary Care

Primary care can help put the health back in health care. A system based on primary care can help us deliver on the Triple Aim: better health, better care, and lower costs.

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The Promise

Better Health

  • Evidence shows that access to primary care can help us live longer, healthier lives.
  • Studies suggest that as many as 127,617 deaths per year in the United States could be averted through an increase in the number of primary care physicians.
  • In areas of the country where there are more primary care providers per person, death rates for cancer, heart disease, and stroke are lower and people are less likely to be hospitalized.

Better Care

  • Urban and rural communities that have an adequate supply of primary care doctors experience lower infant mortality, higher birth weights, and immunization rates at or above national standards despite social disparities.
  • An increase of 1 primary care doctor per 10,000 people can decrease costly and unnecessary care.
  • Evidence shows that primary care (in contrast to specialty care) is associated with a more equitable distribution of heath in populations.

Lower Cost

  • A primary care-based system may cost less because patients experience fewer hospitalizations, less duplication, and more appropriate technology.
  • U.S. adults who have a primary care physician have 33 percent lower health care costs.
  • Medicare spending is less for states with more primary care physicians and yet these states have more effective, higher-quality care.

A health system that undervalues primary care has resulted in health care spending that is more than double that of other industrialized countries, yet America ranks 24th out of 30 in life expectancy.

Make Health Primary

We can build a primary care system that puts patients at the center of their care and improves the health of all Americans. We can create an America where Health is Primary, a place where:

  • Doctors and patients work together in true partnership;
  • Doctors have long-term relationships with their patients and see and treat the whole person;
  • Technology supports and fosters the connection between doctors and patients;
  • Everyone has access to a primary care home where most, if not all, of their health needs can be met and a coordinated medical neighborhood that provides additional care when needed;
  • Prevention and health promotion are as important as treating disease;
  • Doctors are working in partnership with community leaders to address individual and population health;
  • Health disparities are reduced by increasing access to primary care; and,
  • Financial incentives line up with good care and better health outcomes.

The Promise in Action

Teaching Kids that Fitness is Fun—Thomas Newton, M.D., Fitness Renaissance, Clinton, NC
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According to 2008 data from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, the childhood obesity rate in Sampson County for children ages 10-17 was far above the state average (25.4 percent vs. 17.5 percent).

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Stakeholder Collaboration Empowering Employees to Self-Manage Their Chronic Diseases—Taking Control of Your Health
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Effective chronic disease management prevents other health complications, reduces associated hospitalizations and costs, and is crucial to overall health.

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Family Physician Makes House Calls in Chicago’s South Side to Address Health Disparities—Fred Richardson, M.D., Chicago
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Chicago’s South Side is home to some of the city’s most underserved and dangerous neighborhoods, where many residents lack access to basic primary care services. In addition, many young adults from these under-resourced neighborhoods struggle to complete advanced degrees like medical school.

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