This year, Washington, D.C., was once again the epicenter of the debate about the future of healthcare in America. However, often unrecognized amid all the noise are a number of remarkable advancements made across the country that strengthened and advanced primary care.
From state-level innovations to ground-breaking research, primary care systems continued to deliver on the Triple Aim of providing better quality healthcare that improves population health while lowering costs. Since we’ve wrapped up 2017, I wanted to share what I believe were the top five achievements made in primary care last year:
1. States Increased Investment in Primary Care
States are important innovators in primary care and this year they have been at the forefront of investing in innovative systems that place patients at the center of care. For example, new legislation in Oregon requires all commercial insurers in the state to invest at least 12 percent of their total medical expenditures into primary care by the year 2023. Proponents of the law pointed to the success of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH) program to bring the bill over the finish line. The PCPCH program has been in place for several years and has saved Oregon millions of dollars—roughly $13 in savings for every $1 increase in primary care spending.
California is working with 11 health plans to promote and enhance primary care for the 1.4 million individuals currently enrolled in the state’s official health insurance exchange, Covered California. This year, Covered California began requiring all enrollees to be matched with a primary care clinician to serve as a “patient advocate” and first point of contact to the healthcare system.
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Other states including Rhode Island and Michigan are also championing initiatives to transform primary care practice and delivery.
2. Home-Based Primary Care Saved Millions for Medicare
This year, the CMS Innovation Center released initial findings of its Independence at Home Demonstration, a program that provides chronically ill patients with access to primary care services within the comfort of their own home. Home-based primary care “allows health care providers to spend more time with their patients, perform assessments in a patient’s home environment, and assume greater accountability for all aspects of the patient’s care.” As of January 2017, the initiative saved participating practices over $7 million, an average of $746 in savings per Medicare beneficiary. The initial results of this program reiterate the value of home-based primary care and its ability to improve the overall quality of care and life for patients served while reducing costs.