Primary care deserves a primary role in care

How advanced primary care (APC) delivers on quality, experience, and cost


October 28, 2021

Shawn West, MD | Chief Medical Officer 

You have likely been hearing more about the importance of primary care in the last several months. In May 2021, The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published Implementing High-Quality Primary Care, Rebuilding the Foundation of Health Care 1 which recommends all Americans select a primary care provider or be assigned one. This landmark step could reorient how care is delivered in the nation’s fragmented medical system. The findings of this report have been echoed by health care policy experts for decades. 2

Advanced primary care (APC) builds on the importance of an assigned primary care provider for everyone. APC is an approach of providing medical services that involve a team of health care professionals working together and to their full potential, providing comprehensive, holistic, and longitudinal care to individuals and families. Some primary care practices pursue Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) accreditation which aligns with the APC model of care. 

The employers who have begun to put this practice in place are seeing significant results. They can boast lower total care of cost, better quality outcomes, and a superior experience for their members. 

Advanced primary care provides a consistent set of healthcare services which are: 3 

Patient-centered

A partnership among practitioners, patients, and their families ensures that decisions respect patients’ wants, needs, and preferences and that patients have the education and support they need to make decisions and participate in the management of their care. 

Comprehensive

A team of care providers is wholly accountable for a patient’s physical and mental health care needs, including prevention and wellness, acute care, and chronic care. 

Coordinated

Care is organized across all elements of the broader health care system, including specialty care, hospitals, home health care, community services, and supports.

Accessible

Patients can access services with shorter waiting times, "after hours" care, 24/7 electronic or telephone access, and strong communication through health IT innovations. 

Committed to quality and safety

Clinicians and staff enhance quality improvement to ensure that patients and families make informed decisions about their health.

The APC model often includes an embedded mental health team to provide timely, integrated care that is coordinated with the rest of the member’s care. It’s important to remember that mind and body are working as one, complex, interacting set of systems. The APC model keeps mind and body linked, improving the ability of the care team to address all health needs in a unified way. Many of Embright’s primary care practices follow the APC model plus there is additional incentivization with primary care providers to keep their patients healthy with Embright’s value-based reimbursement model. Embright and our primary care providers are on a path to get paid for providing high-quality, comprehensive care instead of the number of patients seen. 

Primary care assignment and adoption should a core component in the benefit plan design if you aim to enhance the member experience, improve health outcomes in your population, and lower the total cost of care. It’s time to make primary care a primary role in care. 

1 - Implementing High-Quality Primary Care, Rebuilding the Foundation of Health Care(2021). https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25983/implementing-high-quality-primary-care-rebuilding-the-foundation-of-health 

2 - A primary care physician for every American, science panel urges. https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-05-05/science-panel-recommends-a-primary-care-physician-for-every-american 

3 - Defining the Medical Home. https://www.pcpcc.org/about/medical-home