In 2002, representatives from seven national family medicine organizations, with the American Academy of Family Physicians in the lead, began a two-year study on the future of family medicine to determine what people want and expect from their primary doctors and how to make needed improvements in education and practice delivery.
The project leadership committee reported their findings in an article in Annals of Family Medicine. Among them were these highlights:
Family physicians are not well recognized by the public for what they are and what they do.
Patients want their primary care physician to meet these five basic criteria:
- To be in their insurance plan.
- To be in a convenient location.
- To be able to schedule an appointment within a reasonable period of time.
- To have good communication skills.
- To have a reasonable amount of experience in practice.
Beyond the basic criteria, patients value the relationship with their physician above all else, including service.
The study, as reported in the Annals of Family Medicine, contains many recommendations, a few of which follow:
Family physicians will redesign their work and workplaces to foster a new model of care based on the concept of a relationship-centered personal medical home that serves as the focal point for all individuals to receive health care.
Family physicians will implement electronic health records to enhance and integrate communication, diagnosis and treatment and measurement of processes and results, as examples.
Family medicine will oversee the training of family physicians to include training in maternity care, the care of hospitalized patients, community and population health and culturally effective and proficient care.
Practice-based research will be integrated into the values, structures and processes of family medicine practices.
Family physician groups will develop strategies to promote awareness and understanding of the new model of family medicine and the concept of the personal medical home.