Empowering primary care: Better access to trusted data

Feb. 17, 2021 / By L. Gordon Moore, MD

“Primary care is the foundation to a high value, high functioning system that meets the needs of people and communities.” – Elizabeth Mitchell, president and CEO of the Purchaser Business Group on Health (PBGH)[1]

Without a solid foundation of high performing primary care, people have less access to care, leading to late diagnoses, increased complications, worse health outcomes and higher costs.[2] The 40 major health care purchasers of PBGH[3] want health plans to shift more resources to primary care and move more boldly toward new payment models—models better aligned with the needs of their employees.[4]

Primary care is on rocky ground in the U.S. due to chronic under-funding compared to the work primary care should be doing to serve their patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these historic problems even worse.[5] 

Podcast Listen ButtonPrimary care physicians in Virginia reported that they did not have access to personal protective equipment and were not even on the list to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the “health care provider” early wave. The alarming problems facing primary care led Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to commission a task force on primary care.[6] The Virginia Center for Health Innovation (VCHI) is acting as neutral convener, having demonstrated its capacity in prior efforts publishing the Virginia Health Value Dashboard.

Come listen to Beth Bortz, president and CEO of the VCHI, describe how a neutral entity convenes all the major stakeholders including employers, health systems, insurance plans, consumers and more. Hear how they share health quality data with the public on low value care delivery, obtain personal protective equipment for independent medical practices and work on ways to make the payment and policy environment less toxic to independent practices.

VCHI is one example of how we may build momentum to improve health care so that we can gain better access, better outcomes and reduce unnecessary costs. We should have conveners in every state and move quickly to shore up primary care.  Anyone spending money on health care has skin in this game. Large purchasers who want better outcomes could add their weight by calling for more bold movement to value-based purchasing (that’s you state governments for your employees and your Medicaid plans. That’s you CMS. That’s you big employers).

L. Gordon Moore, MD, is senior medical director, Clinical Strategy and Value-based Care for 3M Health Information Systems.


[1] https://www.pbgh.org/event/reimagining-primary-care/  Video accessed 2/11/2021

[2] Starfield, Barbara, Leiyu Shi, and James Macinko. “Contribution of Primary Care to Health Systems and Health.” The Milbank Quarterly 83, no. 3 (September 2005): 457–502. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0009.2005.00409.x.

[3] Boeing, Costco, Walmart, Microsoft, etc.: https://www.pbgh.org/our-members/ Accessed 2/11/2021

[4] https://www.pbgh.org/modern-healthcare-employer-physician-groups-want-calif-insurers-to-pay-primary-care-2-5-billion/  Accessed 2/11/2021

[5] https://www.green-center.org/covid-survey Accessed 2/11/2021

[6] https://www.vahealthinnovation.org/governors-task-force-on-primary-care/  Accessed 2/11/2021