New Federal Initiative Aims to Improve Care Coordination

Oct 4, 2011, 5:00 PM, Posted by mtomlinson

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week announced the launch of the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative, to improve the quality of care for Medicare and other patients. The voluntary program, which will begin as a demonstrative model in five to seven markets, encourages primary care doctors and nurses to work with specialists and other health care providers to better coordinate patients’ care.

Primary care providers will receive support and resources to help develop personalized care plans for patients with complex health care needs, offer 24-hour access to care and health information, deliver preventive care, and engage patients and their families in their own care. Practices that do that so will receive an additional monthly fee from Medicare in markets where private insurers agree to do the same. The increased focus on prevention and care coordination is expected to results in savings that will later be shared with primary care practices that participate.

“This collaborative approach has the potential to strengthen the primary care system for all Americans and reduce health care costs by using resources more wisely and preventing disease before it happens,” HHS said in a release.

"The American College of Physicians (ACP) believes that the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative offers enormous potential to promote the kind of personalized and coordinated care that patients seek and that physicians want to deliver," said Steven Weinberger, MD, FACP, executive vice president and CEO of ACP. "It will provide primary care physicians with the support needed to work hand-in-hand with patients toward a shared goal of ensuring high quality care while making the most efficient use of health care resources… Internal medicine physicians know from their personal experiences that when care is coordinated and centered on patients’ needs and expectations, through a primary care practice that uses proven 'best practices' and is accountable for the results, outcomes are better and costs are lower."

Learn more about the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.