It strikes us that one of the ways to improve health and health care while lowering costs is to strengthen primary care. Primary care is the “routine care” delivered by clinicians who are trained in family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics.
Working at the Front Line
These clinicians represent the front line of medicine. They are in the best position to help us maintain and improve our health, detect and treat problems early, manage chronic conditions when they occur and refer us to high value (good quality, lower cost) specialists when needed.
Primary care clinicians should be the quarterback of the health care team. Too often though, with only minutes to see patients, they end up serving as a feeder system to higher-priced specialists and hospitals who are part of their large delivery system.
The result for patients can be fragmented and unnecessary care. The result is certainly higher cost. No doubt, specialists and hospitals are important components of the health care team, but they should be used only when necessary.
Pursuing High-Value Care
What if, instead, we had high-value primary care? That is, care that is comprehensive, personalized and more effective and convenient? These models are beginning to emerge around the country with benefits for patients, employers and clinicians.
In these new models:
- Patients get personalized, comprehensive care that is more flexible and convenient. The cost is often lower – even zero – because employers waive the co-pays or deductibles.
- Employers pay less. The total cost of care is lower with a greater portion spent on primary care. Primary care providers catch problems earlier and have the time and resources to treat people themselves, saving downstream costs. When referrals are appropriate, providers in independent clinics are able to refer based on the best value, versus having to stay within their home system.
- Clinicians are able to spend more time with patients, delivering the kind of care that brought them in to medicine in the first place. And, their compensation (often a salary) can be higher while still lowering the total cost of care.
Exploring High-Value Care
The Alliance is working to learn more about how high-value primary care can make a difference to the total cost of care. We’ll share what we learn through webinars, blog posts and other materials.
Our goal is to give you information and solutions for bringing high-value primary care to your employees and their families.
- The role for employers: “Moving Upstream in Health Care“.
- Looking “Upstream to Change the Cost and Outcomes of Care“.
- View The Alliance’s High-Value Primary Care Initiative.
- Read about Cutting the Tie Between Primary Care and the Fee-for-Service Model.
- View a recording of a webinar featuring Dr. Michael Tuggy’s insights on high-value primary care.
- Learn Six Ways to Tell if Primary Care Offers High Value.
Cheryl participates in a number of national and regional initiatives that align with The Alliance’s mission of controlling costs, improving quality and engaging individuals in their health. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the board of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality.
Prior to joining The Alliance, Cheryl was a program manager at Meriter Hospital in Madison. She earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.