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The Issue

What is primary care?

Primary care means frontline care, and it can come from doctors (family physicians, internists or pediatricians), physician assistants or nurse practitioners, with help from other team members such as nurses, physical/occupational therapists, dentists, pharmacists, social workers, psychologists and others. Primary care clinicians are the quarterbacks of patient care. They make sure that their patients and their needs don’t fall through the cracks of our increasingly confusing health care system. Primary care clinicians care for their patients across the spectrum of their care, including:


• Being the first point of contact for undiagnosed health problems 
• Comprehensive, whole-person care
• Building longitudinal relationships and treating chronic problems
• Coordinating across other health services

Why is primary care so important?

It’s simple: Primary care clinicians ensure that patients get the right care, in the right setting, by the most appropriate practitioner and in a manner consistent with the patient’s desires and values. Data on our health care system increasingly show that areas with higher concentrations of primary care clinicians have lower cost, higher quality health care. But we don’t need data to confirm what each of us know already: the incredible value of being cared for by someone who knows us well and understands both our health issues and our personal values. Key stakeholders – employers, legislators and patients – are increasingly recognizing the value of primary care.

What is revitalized primary care?

Primary care that achieves the "quadruple aim"! The quadruple aim encompasses (1) high-quality care; (2) enhanced patient experience; (3) lower overall health care spending; and (4) sustainable and supportive working conditions for health professionals enabling them to deliver the care that patients need and want. You can learn more about the quadruple aim here.

What will it take to achieve this vision? We’re talking patient-centered care with partnerships between clinicians and patients, greater collaboration and coordination among interprofessional health care teams, enhanced patient access to care, care on the community level and a renewed focus on primary care workforce development at health care professions schools. And all of this will require shifts in policy, reimbursement, clinician behavior, training and culture among health professionals. A lot, right? And we’ll only begin achieving this if we develop crucial leadership capacity and change-making abilities in our community. That’s why PCP exists.  

Learn about PCP's primary care revitalization efforts through leadership development, clinical innovation and change making.