Primary Care

The Next Renaissance

Published in: Annals of Internal Medicine, v. 138, no. 3, Feb. 4, 2003, p. 268-272, E273

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2003

by Jonathan Showstack, Nicole Lurie, Eric B. Larson, Arlyss Anderson Rothman, Susan Hassmiller

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Three decades ago, a renaissance helped create the foundations of primary care as they know it today. In recent years, however, new challenges have confronted primary care. The authors believe that the current challenges can be overcome and may, in fact, present an opportunity for a new renaissance of primary care to address the needs of our population. In this paper, the authors suggest seven core principles and a set of actions that will support a renaissance in, and a positive future for, primary care. The seven principles are 1) Health care must be organized to serve the needs of patients; 2) the goal of primary care systems should be the delivery of the highest-quality care as documented by measurable outcomes; 3) information and information systems are the backbone of the primary care process; 4) current health care systems must be reconstructed; 5) the health care financing system must support excellent primary care practice; 6) primary care education must be revitalized, with an emphasis on new delivery models and training in sites that deliver excellent primary care; and 7) the value of primary care practice must be continually improved, documented, and communicated. At the start of the 21st century, a vital, patient-centered primary care system has much to offer a rapidly changing population with increasingly diverse needs and expectations. If the they keep the needs of persons and patients clearly in sight and design systems to meet those needs, primary care will thrive and our patients will be well served.

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