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Primary care gets a $20 million makeover


The campaign will run advertisements nationwide, focusing on educating about the used of retail clinics and online services for primary care.

Retail clinics offering primary care services are popping up in drug stores all over, and only one-third of the uninsured adults that soon may be covered as a result of healthcare reform reports having a regular doctor.

READ: What retail clinics can teach physicians about patient demand

So the time is right for primary care to seize the moment and market itself as the go-to source for basic healthcare. A new 5-year, $20 million campaign called “Health is Primary” aims to promote the importance of primary care.

Glen Stream, MD, MBI, FAAFP, former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and current board chair of Family Medicine for America’s Health, is helping to lead the campaign and says primary care needs to spread of word of its good work those the newly insured.

"We believe our country is at a tipping point, with a number of major shifts- including the Affordable Care Act, the establishment of the patient-centered medical home, and improvements in technology-that have changed the landscape," Stream says. "We believe these represent an opportunity to truly transform and improve our nation's health."

The campaign will run advertisements nationwide, focusing on educating about the used of retail clinics and online services for primary care.

AAFP says it sees a role for these retail clinics, but the group warns that the settings could make it harder to coordinate care for the highest-need patients, like those with chronic conditions. As far as online services go, the campaign will help patients make sense of which e-services are the most valuable.

"We want to be part of a voice that helps patients and doctors both evaluate apps - to identify those that are beneficial in providing that connection between the patient and the doctor," Stream says. "At the end of the day, if it doesn't improve health, even if it only costs 99 cents, you didn't get your money's worth."

AAFP President Robert Wergin, MD, says the campaign will use advertising, news media outreach, online communications, partnerships and other outreach efforts to rally patients, employers, policymakers and other local stakeholders across the country to recognize and support the value of family medicine and primary care.

The campaign will also include a five-year strategic implementation plan that seeks to do no less than transform the U.S. health care system-a goal that will require family physicians to work alongside their primary care colleagues, patients, policymakers and other key players in healthcare. The strategic effort will focus on expanding access to the patient-centered medical home, ensuring a strong primary care workforce and shifting from fee-for-service to comprehensive primary care payment.

"For too long, the nation's health care system has been out of balance," Stream says. "By shining a light on our definition and vision for true primary care, we can get to a place where the system improves patient health and delivers value over volume."

Participants in the campaign include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, the American Board of Family Medicine, the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, the North American Primary Care Research Group; and Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health