Improving Primary Care Practice
The AHRQ Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit, can help primary care practices reduce the complexity of health care, increase patient understanding of health information, and enhance support for patients of all health literacy levels.
Many studies have demonstrated that high-quality mental and behavioral health care may often be delivered in primary care settings. Because mental health, behavioral health, and substance use disorders are among the most common conditions seen in primary care settings and frequently occur with other medical problems, primary care providers are often in the best position to identify, diagnose, and treat them. A primary care practice will not reach its full potential without adequately addressing patients' mental health needs.
These AHRQ publications describe the need for external infrastructure to help primary care practices develop quality improvement (QI) capacity and describe approaches and supports that could develop and support QI capacity in primary care.
Care coordination involves deliberately organizing patient care activities and sharing information among all of the participants concerned with a patient's care to achieve safer and more effective care. This means that the patient's needs and preferences are known ahead of time and communicated at the right time to the right people, and that this information is used to provide safe, appropriate, and effective care to the patient.
Clinical-community linkages help to connect health care providers, community organizations, and public health agencies so they can improve patients' access to preventive and chronic care services.
Health care/system redesign involves making systematic changes to primary care practices and health systems to improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of patient care.
The integration of health information technology (IT) into primary care includes a variety of electronic methods that are used to manage information about people's health and health care, for both individual patients and groups of patients. The use of health IT can improve the quality of care, even as it makes health care more cost effective.
Primary care practice-based research networks (PBRNs) are groups of primary care clinicians and practices working together to answer community-based health care questions and translate research findings into practice. PBRNs engage clinicians in quality improvement activities and an evidence-based culture in primary care practice to improve the health of all Americans.
Self-management support is an important part of patient-centered care and care coordination in primary care settings. AHRQ’s Prevention and Chronic Care program has developed a variety of resources to help primary clinicians and teams learn about and implement self-management support.