Despite evidence that primary care improves the health of populations and reduces health inequities, primary care in the United States is in a vulnerable position, according to an April 2021 report from National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Committee on Implementing High-Quality Primary Care.
Taking up the challenge set forth in the NASEM report, the Milbank Memorial Fund and The Physicians Foundation are partnering with the Robert Graham Center to develop an annual “Health of US Primary Care Scorecard” to measure the implementation of high-quality primary care and inform national and state policy.
According to the NASEM Committee, the recommended scorecard should provide accountability for the nation’s progress in high-quality primary care implementation across five dimensions: payment reform, access, workforce development, information technology, and accountability.
“We can track performance and trends across many measures of public health and health care nationally and by state, but we are not currently measuring the health of primary care,” said Christopher F. Koller, president of the Milbank Memorial Fund and a member of the NASEM Committee. “This scorecard will raise awareness of the status of primary care nationally and by state, align priorities for improvement, and assess changes over time.”
“I am grateful for the collaboration with The Physicians Foundation and technical expertise of the Robert Graham Center to catalyze work vital to the country’s health,” Koller continued.
Drawing on the NASEM-proposed list of measures and the input of an expert advisory committee, the team at the Robert Graham Center will select metrics and compile data at the national level, and to the degree possible, at the state level. The first report and data visualization, to be published in January 2023, will cover a retrospective period to be defined (e.g., 2015-2020) and subsequent reports will provide data updates.
“Shining a light on primary care by providing an annual scorecard of quality, training, and access may offer a pathway towards reaching the quadruple aim of better care, happier patients, lower cost, and resilient clinicians,” said Jack Westfall, MD, director of the Robert Graham Center. “The Graham Center aims to create and curate evidence to inform policies that support primary care. We are excited to work with the Milbank Memorial Fund team to put the NASEM recommendations to the test and create a product that can improve the health of our local communities and our nation.”
“For many, primary care is the first line of contact in our health care system making its role invaluable in supporting the health of our communities. By tracking the status of primary care and how it’s implemented, we will be better equipped to understand gaps in care and how to effectively address them,” said Gary Price, MD, president of The Physicians Foundation. “The Physicians Foundation is proud to be collaborating with the Milbank Memorial Fund on this important step toward improving the state of primary care in our country with a tool that assesses impact and effects positive change in how we implement high-quality primary care.”