Americans who receive primary care get significantly more high-value care, with better healthcare access and overall experience, than patients without primary care, according to a new study publised online by the Journal of the American Medical Association. For purposes of the study, primary care was defined as the provider “you usually go if you are sick or need advice about your health,” not including the emergency room. The researchers considered 39 clinical quality measures and seven patient experience measures, aggregated into 10 clinical quality composites (including six high-value and four low-value services), an overall patient experience rating, and two experience composites. Patients with primary care received more recommended diagnostic and preventive testing and services than those without primary care; for example, 10.4% more received a flu shot, and 9.5% had their blood pressure checked. Given their findings, the authors recommended that “policymakers and health system leaders seeking to improve value should consider increasing investment in primary care.” The study reflected the care of 49,286 adults with primary care and 21,133 adults without primary care from 2002 to 2014.
Weighing the Quality—and Value—of Primary Care