ACHP Report: Strengthening Primary Care for Patients

The topic of patient-centered care has been widely discussed in recent months within many policy and health care circles, not to mention among communities nationwide. The popularity of the term is also evidenced in the recent surge of media coverage about engaging patients in their care and transforming delivery systems to better meet patients’ care needs.

Michael Millenson, president of Health Quality Advisors LLC and a nationally recognized health care expert, recently discussed the issue in a Health Affairs blog post on what patient-centeredness truly means. Millenson attributes much of the importance to power shifts that enable patients to have more of a stake in their own care.

In a similar vein, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a toolkit earlier this week showcasing how primary care practices are including patients in quality improvement efforts. And the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), as its name suggests, is wholly concerned with issues relating to efficient, high-quality patient care with a strong primary care foundation. Last week, the PCPCC hosted a webinar on ensuring a “whole-person” approach to care by building a team of care providers for all patients.

 

In light of these recent developments, ACHP is excited to release a timely new publication, Health Plan Innovations in Patient-Centered Care:  Strengthening Primary Care for Patients, which demonstrates the crucial role that health plans can play in transforming primary care to deliver more effective, efficient and patient-centered care. This is the third publication in our innovation series; the previous two reports focused on care management and transitions from hospital to home.

Our primary care report finds that health plans can strengthen organized systems of care through primary care transformation (an umbrella term signifying comprehensive practice and payment reforms) and can ensure that such transformation is successful, sustainable and scalable by focusing on three core elements:

– Collaboration with provider partners.

– Sharing of tools and resources with practices.

– Building on the existing cultures and characteristics of the health plan, providers, patients and community.

The report also includes outcomes achieved by 17 ACHP member organizations, which increased care quality, improved patient and/or provider experience or lowered costs. Many did all three, demonstrating that health plans and provider groups do not have to sacrifice quality and patient experience for cost.

Arguably, there are many different ideas of what patient-centered care means and how to properly implement it; there have even been debates on whether “patient-centered” is a suitable term to use. Semantics aside, ACHP believes that the best, highest-quality and most affordable care can be achieved when the needs of patients are at the center of the system and payers and providers work together to organize care. We invite you to read our report and see what our members have been doing to achieve this goal.

Wendi Bootes