Robert L. Phillips, Jr.
R. L. Phillips, "International Learning on Increasing the Value and Effectiveness of Primary Care (I LIVE PC)," Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, March/April 2012 25(Suppl. 1):S2–S5.
The experiences of other industrialized countries show that ensuring access to primary care—one of the goals of U.S. health reform—can provide the groundwork for efforts to improve overall care and population health while also controlling costs.
Over the next few years, provisions of the Affordable Care Act seek to strengthen the U.S. primary care system by expanding the workforce, providing physician practices with technological and other support, and increasing provider payment, among other approaches. In April 2011, The Commonwealth Fund and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) supported a conference of frontline clinicians, researchers, and policymakers from six nations—Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—that have taken varying approaches to improving primary care. In a special issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Robert L. Phillips, Jr., M.D., M.S.P.H., director of the American Academy of Family Physicians' Robert Graham Center, summarized lessons discussed at the conference.
The Affordable Care Act should help ensure that nearly all Americans have access to care—the first step in efforts to transform primary care. Evidence from other nations demonstrates that a strong primary care strategy can help nations improve care as well as population health while controlling costs.
Dr. Phillips’s commentary draws on six articles on international efforts to improve primary care published in a special issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. The articles were written by members of the delegations that attended the April 2011 conference funded by AHRQ and The Commonwealth Fund.
As the U.S. reforms its health care system, it can learn from other advanced nations that have more robust primary care systems, place a greater focus on population health, and enjoy better health outcomes.