With 50 million Americans lacking adequate access to primary care – a shortfall set to worsen in coming years – UnitedHealth Group’s (NYSE: UNH) Center for Health Reform & Modernization issued a report today highlighting practical and scalable solutions that can increase primary care capacity and access to needed services, and improve care delivery.
In the report “Advancing Primary Care Delivery: Practical, Proven and Scalable Approaches,” new research shows a clear relationship between more primary care physicians practicing in a local health care market and lower rates of avoidable hospital admissions and emergency department visits. However, even with an aging and sicker population and reductions in the uninsured, primary care office visits declined between 2012 and 2013.
The report also finds that the lowest concentration of primary care physicians occurs in areas with the lowest incomes and highest rates of uninsured, as well as in rural areas, indicating that focusing on physician supply alone may not address the largest gaps in primary care capacity.
The report examines existing best practices and key solutions that – if expanded at scale – can help close the primary care gap and improve care delivery, including:
Since 2009, the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization has released research and offered practical solutions to critical health care challenges, drawing upon United Health Group’s clinical and research expertise and data analytics capabilities.
“Primary care is essential to building a higher-performing health care system that promotes personal well-being and saves consumers and taxpayers money,” said Richard Migliori, M.D., executive vice president of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealth Group. “This research shows the value of improving primary care capacity, not only in terms of improving patients’ health but also in catching problems early and avoiding unnecessary and costly hospital services.”
“The Center for Health Reform & Modernization has identified a broad range of practical, scalable solutions that can be tailored to local health care markets and policy environments,” said Cory Alexander, executive vice president of External Affairs at UnitedHealth Group. “These approaches, if embraced and adopted at scale, can meaningfully increase primary care capacity, improve quality and reduce health care costs.”
The report identifies several examples of primary care providers that have boosted quality and reduced costs by partnering with private and government health plans in a “pay for value” model.
“Through more effective use of existing resources and smarter incentives, we can bolster primary care capacity, increase access to the underserved and improve the effectiveness of care delivery across the health care system,” said Dr. Migliori. “WESTMED and Monarch represent successful models that can and should be scaled across the entire health care system, acknowledging the unique needs of each payer, provider, patient population and policy environment of each local market.”
To read the full report, go to: http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/reform.
About UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization
Drawing on our internal expertise and data and extensive external experiences and partnerships, the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization analyzes key health care issues and develops innovative policies and practical solutions for the health care challenges facing our nation. We share this information in the U.S. and internationally with policy-makers, academicians, researchers, providers, health plans, employers, the public, and other key health care stakeholders. In January 2009, UnitedHealth Group launched the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization to present proven strategies to contain costs and improve quality and care, and today, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to health care modernization by offering solutions based on proven policies and best practices.
For more information, visit www.unitedhealthgroup.com/reform.