Practical Playbook Offers Roadmap for Integrating Primary Care, Public Health

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224

LEAWOOD, Kan. — An effort that began in March 2012 has coalesced into a textbook that will be used in medical school and family medicine residency curricula to help spur integration of public health and family medicine.

The textbook, The Practical Playbook: Public Health and Primary Care Together, brings together the expertise of primary care and public health in response to recommendations of the 2012 Institutes of Medicine report, “Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health.”  The IOM called for greater integration of primary care and public health.

Primary care and public health have natural links that strengthen each other, according to Julie Wood, MD, senior vice president for Health of the Public and Interprofessional Activities at the American Academy of Family Physicians. She described those links in her contribution, “Primary Care and Public Health: Partners for Population Health,” to the Practical Playbook.

“By using the strategies outlined in the Practical Playbook, we will be able to better leverage the critical public health infrastructure, which has evolved over more than 200 years into a sophisticated, front-line service protecting those of us who live in the United States,” Wood wrote. “Pair the public health organizational structure with the patient-centered medical home – wherein a team of health care professionals provides preventive and medical care in the context of family and community – and an unstoppable health care force is created.”

Andrew Bazemore, MD, MPH, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, agreed. Reviewing the factors that contribute to both the shortage and maldistribution of primary care physicians, Bazemore points to the effectiveness of care teams – within the medical practice as well as in the community – in meeting patients’ needs.

“To mitigate the expected shortfall of primary care providers, broader teams and coalitions are required,” he wrote in the Practical Playbook’s chapter, “The Changing Landscape of Primary Care.” “The new era of patient-centered primary care delivery requires tasks to be shared across a broad team. Primary care transformation is already expanding the roles of nurses, physician assistants, medical assistants, pharmacists, nutritionists, behaviorists and care coordinators in the care of patients and populations.”

Equally important, he added, is broader community engagement that enables primary care professionals to address the social determinants of health. “To address these factors more effectively, practices must better leverage and partner with community resources.”

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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