US Military Primary Care

Problems, Solutions, and Implications for Civilian Medicine

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 32, no. 11, Nov. 2013, p. 1949-1955

Posted on RAND.org on November 01, 2013

by Benjamin F. Mundell, Mark W. Friedberg, Christine Eibner, William C. Mundell

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The US Military Health System (MHS), which is responsible for providing care to active and retired members of the military and their dependents, faces challenges in delivering cost-effective, high-quality primary care while maintaining a provider workforce capable of meeting both peacetime and wartime needs. The MHS has implemented workforce management strategies to address these challenges, including "medical home" teams for primary care and other strategies that expand the roles of nonphysician providers such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and medical technicians. Because these workforce strategies have been implemented relatively recently, there is limited evidence of their effectiveness. If they prove successful, they could serve as a model for the civilian sector. However, because the MHS model features a broad mix of provider types, changes to civilian scope-of-practice regulations for nonphysician providers would be necessary before the civilian provider mix could replicate that of the MHS.

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