[BREAKING] Primary care lead topic in conferences

I sum up 4 healthcare conferences for you in 5 minutes!

primary-care

Cropped shot of two young people running on mountain trail. Young man and women trail running on a mountain path.

This June I was in a marathon – but I wasn’t running. Instead, I was sitting in chairs, attending 4 events in 3 weeks about the current state of healthcare. That’s around 12 hours of talk! 
 
Did you miss out on the NEGBH, MITEF, NYCHBL and HPRMS events? I’m here to help – I’ll share my 12 hours of conference content in 5 minutes! Please note these are my completely unofficial impressions, and may not reflect what the panelists intended. 

Twelve hours in 2 words

 
My 12 hours of conference content can be summed up in 2 words: Primary care. Everyone is talking about it.
 
Primary care, if done well, is a great idea. Primary care allows healthcare organizations to engage a patient before their condition gets worse and care gets more expensive. Primary care tends to be located in the patient’s community, so it is easily accessible. And primary care is associated with better care management, as well as integrating behavioral health. So it’s an important step towards achieving the triple aim: Improving the patient experience of care, improving population health, and reducing the cost of health care. 

Why primary care? Follow the money 

 
I noticed that primary care dovetails with the business goals of many of healthcare’s major players. Here are some examples:
 
  • Payers (health plans) want to overcome the dislike many people have for their brands, the mostly negative engagement with members, and lack of member loyalty. In addition they need to control costs to please shareholders, all while being heavily regulated. Promoting primary care to members can help payers create a little bit of a halo effect for their brands, while helping to reduce costs.

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    • Large self-insured corporations are in an advantageous position. Their patient population is healthier than average. They are less regulated so they are more free to innovate. Primary care, especially when offered at the workplace, is seen as a valuable employee benefit that can reduce absenteeism and increase  loyalty. And corporations save big when high-quality primary care leads to less need for specialists.

 

  • One of the key business objectives of provider systems is to encourage their patients to stay loyal. That’s one of the reasons we continue to have incompatible and competing EMRs. For providers, primary care helps find and retain patients and their families right in their community and build long term loyalty. In addition, DSRIP and other government programs offer incentives to make primary care a central part of their services. 

So who doesn’t love primary care?

 
Evidence suggests doctors are reluctant to choose primary care as a career. There is a national shortage of primary care doctors. Compared with specialists, the job is widely seen as low status and underpaid. While there are efforts to change clinician education and culture to make primary care a more popular choice, progress is slow.

FACT OF THE MONTH

A group of geese on the ground is a gaggle, a group of geese in the air is a skein!

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