AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
During National Primary Care Week, AHRQ Celebrates the Tradition of Primary Care Practices Delivering Whole-Person Care
Primary care is the foundation of a strong healthcare system. It is the point of first contact for patients and their families when care is needed, a source for services spanning preventive care to diagnosis and treatment. When further care is needed, primary care teams coordinate all healthcare needs.
Perhaps most important, primary care practices offer continuity of care across a patient’s lifetime, providing a longtime relationship between patients and their clinical teams. In this way, primary care goes beyond disease-focused care, and aims to deliver whole-person, patient-centered care.
Whole-person care addresses all aspects of a patient’s physical and mental health needs, as well as challenges that impact health such as housing and food insecurity. Patient centeredness ensures that a patient’s preferences and values are considered and incorporated in their care. Improving primary care is central to improving patient care.
AHRQ pays tribute to the nation’s primary care practices for their unique and critical contributions in caring for all Americans during this National Primary Care Week. The Agency also embraces its growing leadership role in helping to preserve and advance primary care in an evolving healthcare landscape.
At the center of AHRQ’s endeavors is the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research (NCEPCR). As expressed in its mission, NCEPCR is committed to support transformative primary care research, tools, and methods for implementation, and the next generation of primary care researchers to improve the delivery of primary care.
Consistent with AHRQ’s standing as the only federal agency charged with conducting and supporting primary care research, our goals for NCEPCR are ambitious. In addition to coordinating primary care research activities across AHRQ, the Center aims to synthesize primary care research information across federal agencies, communicate research findings to the field, convene stakeholders to galvanize new research directions, and initiate new research to address knowledge gaps in fundamental aspects of primary care.
I encourage you to learn more by visiting the NCEPCR website, which provides access to research initiatives to improve primary care, tools and resources designed to advance quality, and funding and training opportunities.
AHRQ offers additional actionable tools and models to support and improve primary care. For consumers, we offer How To Create a My Medicines List, a resource that provides step-by-step guidance to help patients keep track of when, how, and how much medicine to take. We also encourage patients to use AHRQ’s QuestionBuilder app, which helps patients and caregivers prepare for medical appointments and maximize visit times. Both are available in English and Spanish.
Tools available for use by primary care teams include EvidenceNOW Tools for Change, a collection of resources for implementing evidence into practice; Burnout in Primary Care: Assessing and Addressing It Your Practice, which offers strategies to increase well-being in primary care teams; and The Academy, devoted to integrating behavioral health and primary care.
AHRQ looks forward to future advances as primary care practices build upon their tradition as Americans’ “front door” to healthcare. During National Primary Care Week, and throughout the year, we remain committed to investing in research and the development of resources that help primary care practices keep pace with the evolving healthcare landscape.
At AHRQ, we work towards a future where all Americans receive high-quality, whole-person care that is evidence-based, affordable, and takes into consideration patients’ values and preferences, while at the same time protecting the well-being of the primary care workforce.
Dr. Miller is director of AHRQ’s Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement.