America’s Family Physicians Join Major Employers and Other Physicians to Revolutionize America’s Health Care System

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Employers of 50 Million, Physician Groups of 330,000 Form Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative

Contact: Leslie Champlin
(800) 274-2237, ext. 5224

LEAWOOD, Kan. – The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) joined other national primary care physician groups and corporate employers today to announce the formation of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC). The Collaborative brings together physicians, employers and consumers to encourage reform of America’s health care system based on a model of care called the patient-centered medical home. This model would transform how primary care is organized and financed to provide better outcomes to patients; more appropriate payment to physicians; and better value, accountability and transparency to purchasers and consumers.

“In a health care environment where there is a growing unease among patients and employers alike about the rising costs and declining quality of health care, America’s family physicians believe every patient should have a personal medical home – a trusted source of primary care,” said Rick Kellerman, M.D., President of the AAFP.

The patient-centered medical home model promises value not only to patients but to the health care system as a whole. Unlike the current system, which rewards high-volume, over-specialized and inefficient care, the patient-centered medical home is based on the premise that the best health care has a strong primary care foundation and strives for quality and efficiency. Most importantly, it returns the focus back to the patient and is built by an ongoing relationship between a patient and his or her personal physician.

The patient-centered medical home model is based on research that shows the best care is not episodic and illness-oriented – it is patient-centered, physician-guided, ongoing and cost-efficient.

The views of the Collaborative were revealed in a joint statement submitted for the record at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health today on reform of Medicare physician payments.

At the same hearing, Kellerman said in testimony, “It is time to stabilize and modernize Medicare by recognizing the importance of, and appropriately valuing, primary care and by embracing the patient-centered medical home model as an integral part of the Medicare program.”

In a patient-centered medical home:

  • the patient is at the center of care and the practice is organized according to the needs of the patient;
  • the personal physician leads a team of health care professionals who collectively take responsibility for the ongoing care of the patient;
  • the personal physician helps the patient navigate the complex and confusing health care system, coordinating and facilitating care with other qualified medical professionals;
  • care is integrated across all care settings – practices, hospitals, nursing homes, consultants and other components of the complex health care network – to assure patients get the right care when and where they need it;
  • information technology and patient registries help facilitate the safe and secure exchange of information. Information technology is also used to support optimal patient care, performance measurement, patient education and enhanced communication;
  • the practice provides enhanced and convenient access to care not only through face-to-face visits, but also via telephone, e-mail and other modes of communication. For the convenience of patients, practices also offer open scheduling (whereby physicians leave a portion of their daily schedule open for same-day appointments) and expanded office hours; and
  • there is a focus on safety and quality of care. Evidence-based medicine guides clinical decision making, and physicians use point-of-care decision support tools. The practice voluntarily measures health outcomes to gauge quality of care and demonstrate patients’ continuous improvement.

Through May 8, members included: Physicians: the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, and the American Osteopathic Association, collectively representing 330,000 physicians and medical students that deliver primary care services nationwide; Other Health Care Organizations: the National Association of Community Health Centers, representing more than 1,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers that serve 16 million people in medically underserved communities through 5,000 sites; Business: The ERISA Industry Committee, Exelon Corp, General Motors, IBM, National Business Group on Health, Walgreens Strategic Health Initiatives, and Wyeth, representing companies that employ over 50 million Americans, and the HR Policy Association, representing the vice presidents of human resources of major American companies.

Several major consumer and patient advocacy groups, and additional employer and physician groups, are expected to join the Collaborative in the near future.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 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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