Specialist mental health care is out of reach for most Indians. The World Health Organisation has called for the integration of mental health into primary health care as a key strategy in closing the treatment gap. However, few studies in India have examined medical practitioners’ mental health-related knowledge and attitudes. This study examined these facets of service provision amongst doctors providing primary health care in a rural area of Karnataka is Southern India.
A mental health knowledge and attitudes questionnaire was self- administered by participants. The questionnaire consisted of four sections; 1) basic demographics and practice information, 2) training in mental health, 3) knowledge of mental health, and self-perceived competence in providing mental health care, and 4) attitudes towards mental health. Data was analysed quantitatively, primarily using descriptive statistics.
This study recruited 46 participants. The majority of participants (69.6%) felt competent in providing mental health services to their patients. However, there was a substantial level of endorsement for several statements that reflected negative attitudes. Almost one third of participants (28.0%) had not received any training in providing mental health care. Whilst three-quarters of participants correctly identified depression (76.1%) and psychosis (76.1%) in a vignette, fewer were able to name three common signs and symptoms of depression (50.0%) and psychosis (28.3%).
Integrating mental health into primary health care requires evidence-based up-skilling programs. Doctors in this study desired such training and would benefit from it, with a focus on both depth of knowledge and uncovering stigmatising attitudes towards people with mental health problems.
To identify doctors' perceptions of the need for palliative care for heart failure and barriers to change.
Qualitative study with focus groups.
North west England.
General practitioners and consultants in cardiology, geriatrics, palliative care, and general medicine.
Doctors supported the development of palliative care for patients with heart failure with the general practitioner as a central figure. They were reluctant to endorse expansion of specialist palliative care services. Barriers to developing approaches to palliative care in heart failure related to three main areas: the organisation of health care, the unpredictable course of heart failure, and the doctors' understanding of roles. The health system was thought to work against provision of holistic care, exacerbated by issues of professional rivalry and control. The priorities identified for the future were developing the role of the nurse, better community support for primary care, and enhanced communication between all the health professionals involved in the care of patients with heart failure.
Greater consideration should be given to the care of patients dying with heart failure, clarifying the roles of doctors and nurses in different specialties, and reshaping the services provided for them. Many of the organisational and professional issues are not peculiar to patients dying with heart failure, and addressing such concerns as the lack of coordination and continuity in medical care would benefit all patients.
What is already known on this topicPatients with heart failure have unmet needs for health care at the end of lifeSpecialist palliative care services see few patients with heart failureThe national service framework for coronary heart disease endorses the provision of palliative care for heart failureLittle evidence exists on how this care should be provided, and doctors' views are not knownWhat this study addsBarriers to adopting a palliative care approach in heart failure care relate to the current organisation of health services, the difficulties of prognostication, and doctors' understanding of roles and responsibilitiesDoctors believe that the general practitioner should be the central figure in palliative care for heart failure, supported by specialistsDoctors' future priorities are developing the role of nurses, increasing essential community services, such as district nursing, and improving communication with colleagues
This nationwide study was conducted to assess the extent of adherence of primary-care physicians to the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended guidelines on the use of oral rehydration therapy (ORT), antimicrobials, and prescribing of other drugs used in treating symptoms of acute diarrhoea in Bahrain. A questionnaire-based, cross-sectional survey was carried out in primary-care health centres. During a six-week survey period (15 August–30 September 2003), 328 (25.2%) completed questionnaires were returned from 17 of 20 health centres. In a sample of 300 patients, oral rehydration salts (ORS) solution was prescribed to 89.3% (n=268) patients; 12.3% received ORS alone, whereas 77% received ORS in combination with symptomatic drugs. Antimicrobials were prescribed to 2% of the patients. In 11.4% of the cases, rehydration fluids and other drugs were given parenterally. The mean number of drugs was 2.2+0.87 per prescription. In approximately one-third of the patients, three or more drugs were used. Primary-care physicians almost always adhered to the WHO guidelines with respect to ORT and antimicrobials. However, in several instances, ORT was prescribed along with polypharmacy, including irrational use of drugs for symptomatic relief. Effective health policies are needed to reduce the unnecessary burden on the healthcare system.
Compliance; Cross-sectional studies; Diarrhoea, Acute; Drug therapy; Oral rehydration solutions; Oral rehydration therapy; Bahrain
Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly prevalent chronic illness and is an important cause of avoidable mortality. Patients are managed by the integrated activities of clinical and non-clinical members of the primary care team. Studies of the quality of care for patients with diabetes suggest less than optimum care in a number of areas.
The aim of this study is to improve the quality of care for patients with diabetes cared for in primary care in the UK by identifying individual, team, and organisational factors that predict the implementation of best practice.
Participants will be clinical and non-clinical staff within 100 general practices sampled from practices who are members of the MRC General Practice Research Framework. Self-completion questionnaires will be developed to measure the attributes of individual health care professionals, primary care teams (including both clinical and non-clinical staff), and their organisation in primary care. Questionnaires will be administered using postal survey methods. A range of validated theories will be used as a framework for the questionnaire instruments. Data relating to a range of dimensions of the organisational structure of primary care will be collected via a telephone interview at each practice using a structured interview schedule. We will also collect data relating to the processes of care, markers of biochemical control, and relevant indicator scores from the quality and outcomes framework (QOF). Process data (as a proxy indicator of clinical behaviours) will be collected from practice databases and via a postal questionnaire survey of a random selection of patients from each practice. Levels of biochemical control will be extracted from practice databases. A series of analyses will be conducted to relate the individual, team, and organisational data to the process, control, and QOF data to identify configurations associated with high quality care.
UKCRN ref:DRN120 (ICPD)
Improving quality of end-of-life care is a key driver of UK policy. The Gold Standards Framework (GSF) for Palliative Care aims to strengthen primary palliative care through facilitating implementation of systematic clinical and organisational processes.
To describe the general practices that participated in the GSF programme in 2003–5 and the changes in process and perception of quality that occurred in the year following entry into the programme, and to identify factors associated with the extent of change.
Participating practices completed a questionnaire at baseline and another approximately 12 months later. Data were derived from categorical questions about the implementation of 35 organisational and clinical processes, and self-rated assessments of quality, associated with palliative care provision.
1305 practices (total registered population almost 10 million). Follow-up questionnaire completed by 955 (73.2%) practices (after mean (SD) 12.8 (2.8) months; median 13 months).
Mean increase in total number of processes implemented (maximum = 35) was 9.6 (95% CI 9.0 to 10.2; p<0.001; baseline: 15.7 (SD 6.4), follow-up: 25.2 (SD 5.2)). Extent of change was largest for practices with low baseline scores. Aspects of process related to coordination and communication showed the greatest change. All dimensions of quality improved following GSF implementation; change was highest for the “quality of palliative care for cancer patients” and “confidence in assessing, recording and addressing the physical and psychosocial areas of patient care”.
Implementation of the GSF seems to have resulted in substantial improvements in process and quality of palliative care. Further research is required of the extent to which this has enhanced care (physical, practical and psychological outcomes) for patients and carers.
A focus on the primary care workforce is critical when discussing plans to address the fractured United States health care system. However, we must first address the primary care physician shortage crisis when planning for health care reform which focuses on increasing access to the US population. Initial strategies may include improving reimbursement rates for primary care services, incentivizing medical schools in making primary care training a priority, and developing robust loan-forgiveness programs for those who enter and work in primary care specialties. Planning with congressional representatives about these elements will better ensure sustainable health reform efforts are implemented.
China is a country with vast regional differences and uneven economic development, which have led to widening gaps between the rich and poor in terms of access to healthcare, quality of care, and health outcomes. China's healthcare reform efforts must be tailored to the needs and resources of each region and community. Building and strengthening primary care within the Chinese health care system is one way to effectively address health challenges. This paper begins by outlining the concept of primary care, including key definitions and measurements. Next, results from a number of studies will demonstrate that primary care characteristics are associated with savings in medical costs, improvements in health outcomes and reductions in health disparities. This paper concludes with recommendations for China on successfully incorporating a primary care model into its national health policy, including bolstering the primary care workforce, addressing medical financing structures, recognizing the importance of evidence-based medicine, and looking to case studies from countries that have successfully implemented health reform.
Primary care reform initiatives in Ontario are proceeding with little information about the views of practicing family physicians.
A postal questionnaire was sent to 1200 randomly selected family physicians in Ontario five months after the initial invitation to join the Ontario Family Health Network. It sought information about their practice characteristics, their intention to participate in the Network and their views about the organization and financing of primary care.
The response rate was 50.3%. While many family physicians recognize the need for change in the delivery of primary care, the majority (72%) did not expect to join the Ontario Family Health Network by 2004, or by some later date (60%). Nor did they favour capitation or rostering, 2 key elements of the proposed reforms. Physicians who favour capitation were 5.5 times more likely to report that they expected to join the Network by 2004, although these practices comprise 5% of the sample.
The results of this survey, conducted five months after the initial offering of primary care reform agreements to all Ontario physicians, suggest that an 80% enrollment target is unrealistic.
The World health Organization (WHO) declares Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) endemic in Turkey. Despite the magnitude of problem, no documented evidence exists in Turkey, which reveals the awareness and practices of the country’s adult population regarding CCHF, its spread, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. This study was conducted to assess the level of knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding CCHF in people visiting tertiary care hospital in Tokat, Turkey.
This questionnaire based cross-sectional survey was conducted among patients’ relatives or guardians who admitted pediatric outpatient clinics during May–July 2008. The questionnaire was composed of 25 questions.
A total of 1034 respondents participated in the survey. Sufficient knowledge about CCHF was not found in 28.9% of the sample. Literate individuals were relatively better informed about CCHF as compared to the illiterate people. Television and radio were considered as the most important and useful source of information on the disease.
We have found insufficient knowledge on CCHF in our population. It is thought to have no chance of success against a fatal disease such as CCHF, which has serious consequences, without the contribution of community. It is clear that there are important tasks for health, agriculture, and media sectors to improve public knowledge and awareness about CCHF.
Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever; Public knowledge; Survey; Turkey
Training in different specialties should prepare young physicians to assume responsibilities in primary care. Training for the acquisition of the proper attitude for health care, should be given in the course of the training in different specialties.
To assess the attitudes of medical interns who have undergone rotation in the Department of Family and Community Medicine of a large university hospital, towards the provision of primary care.
A cross-sectional study incorporating a structured questionnaire was carried out on a sample of 106 interns; and 20 consultants were selected as a reference group.
All medical interns almost unanimously endorsed continuous, coordinated, accessible and comprehensive care. In contrast, consultants less often supported the provision of such care for their own patients.
Unless consultants change their attitudes towards the attributes of primary care, the quality of patient care as well as physician training would suffer.
Attitudes; Medical Interns; Primary Health Care
The recent establishment of primary care residencies at the University of Nevada School of Medicine has raised important questions about local priorities in the training of physicians to provide primary care for adults. Because the amount of money available for health care training is decreasing, these questions also have national importance. Primary care internal medicine, not synonymous with general internal medicine, offers distinct advantages to patients over family practice adult care and primary care offered by internist subspecialists. The University of Nevada has a singular opportunity to organize a strong primary care internal medicine residency, but national problems of internal medicine emphasis exist. Nationwide changes in internal medicine residency programs (ongoing) and American Board of Internal Medicine nationalization of the fledgling primary care internal medicine fellowship movement are suggested. Specifically proposed is an extra year for primary care training with a single examination after four years, producing general internists with a primary care “minor.” Alternately, and ideally, there would be a full two-year primary care fellowship with a separate internal medicine primary care subspecialty board examination. Either of the above options would provide necessary training and academic credibility for primary care internists, and would redirect internal medicine certification and training.
Recent reforms in Portugal aimed at strengthening the role of the primary care system, in order to improve the quality of the health care system. Since 2006 new policies aiming to change the organization, incentive structures and funding of the primary health care sector were designed, promoting the evolution of traditional primary health care centres (PHCCs) into a new type of organizational unit - family health units (FHUs). This study aimed to compare performances of PHCC and FHU organizational models and to assess the potential gains from converting PHCCs into FHUs.
Stochastic discrete event simulation models for the two types of organizational models were designed and implemented using Simul8 software. These models were applied to data from nineteen primary care units in three municipalities of the Greater Lisbon area.
The conversion of PHCCs into FHUs seems to have the potential to generate substantial improvements in productivity and accessibility, while not having a significant impact on costs. This conversion might entail a 45% reduction in the average number of days required to obtain a medical appointment and a 7% and 9% increase in the average number of medical and nursing consultations, respectively.
Reorganization of PHCC into FHUs might increase accessibility of patients to services and efficiency in the provision of primary care services.
Family health units; primary care reforms; discrete event simulation; performance indicators; Portugal
Providing appropriate palliative care for older people is a major task for health care systems worldwide, and up to now it has also been one of the most neglected. Focusing on the German health care system, we sought to explore the attitudes of health professionals regarding their understanding of palliative care for older patients and its implementation.
In a qualitative study design, focus groups were established consisting of general practitioners, geriatricians, palliative care physicians, palliative care nurses and general nurses (a total of 29 participants). The group discussions were recorded, transcribed, coded and analysed using the methodological approach of Qualitative Description.
Deficiencies in teamwork and conflicting role definitions between doctors and nurses and between family practitioners and medical specialists were found to be central problems affecting the provision of appropriate palliative care for older people. It was emphasized that there are great advantages to family doctors playing a leading role, as they usually have the longest contacts to the patients. However, the professional qualifications of family doctors were to some extent criticized. The general practitioners for their part criticized the increasing specialization on the field of palliative care. All groups complained that the German compensation system gives insufficient consideration to the time-consuming care of older patients, and about excessive bureaucracy.
General practitioners are the central health professionals in the delivery of palliative care for older people. They should however be encouraged to involve specialized services such as palliative care teams where necessary. With the German health care reform of 2007, a legal framework has been created that allows for this. As far as its realization is concerned, it must be ensured that the spotlight remains on the needs of the patients and not on policy conflicts and rivalries between health care professionals. Older people might particularly benefit if "talking" medicine and time-consuming care were properly catered for, financially and organizationally, in the health care system.
There is a critical need for research to examine the changing mental health services system, to evaluate major innovations in the provision of mental health treatment, and to remove existing barriers to comprehensive and cost-effective care. To achieve these aims, collaboration is needed among government agencies, mental health services programs, academic institutions, and the private sector. The National Institute of Mental Health supports research and research training on the mental health services system primarily through the Division of Biometry and Applied Sciences. This article focuses on the division's three priority research areas of the mental health services system: the provision of mental health care in the primary care sector, the organization and delivery of care for the chronically mentally ill, and financing and reimbursement of care. The various mechanisms of research support are also highlighted.
Little research attention has been given to attempts to implement organisational initiatives to improve quality of care for mental health care, where there is a high level of indeterminacy and clinical judgements are often contestable. This paper explores recent efforts made at an organisational level in England to improve the quality of primary care for people with mental health problems through the new institutional processes of 'clinical governance'.
Framework analysis, based on the Normalisation Process Model (NPM), of attempts over a five year period to develop clinical governance for primary mental health services in Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). The data come from a longitudinal qualitative multiple case-study approach in a purposive sample of 12 PCTs, chosen to reflect a maximum variety of organisational contexts for mental health care provision.
The constant change within the English NHS provided a difficult context in which to attempt to implement 'clinical governance' or, indeed, to reconstruct primary mental health care. In the absence of clear evidence or direct guidance about what 'primary mental health care' should be, and a lack of actors with the power or skills to set about realising it, the actors in 'clinical governance' had little shared knowledge or understanding of their role in improving the quality of mental health care. There was a lack of ownership of 'mental health' as an integral, normalised part of primary care.
Despite some achievements in regard to monitoring and standardisation of prescribing practice, mental health care in primary care seems to have so far largely eluded the gaze of 'clinical governance'. Clinical governance in English primary mental health care has not yet become normalised. We make some policy recommendations which we consider would assist in the process normalisation and suggest other contexts to which our findings might apply.
With the recognition that public hospitals are often productively inefficient, reforms have taken place worldwide to increase their administrative autonomy and financial responsibility. Reforms in China have been some of the most radical: the government budget for public hospitals was fixed, and hospitals had to rely on charges to fill their financing gap. Accompanying these changes was the widespread introduction of performance-related pay for hospital doctors – termed the "bonus" system. While the policy objective was to improve productivity and cost recovery, it is likely that the incentive to increase the quantity of care provided would operate regardless of whether the care was medically necessary.
The primary concerns of this study were to assess the effects of the bonus system on hospital revenue, cost recovery and productivity, and to explore whether various forms of bonus pay were associated with the provision of unnecessary care. The study drew on longitudinal data on revenue and productivity from six panel hospitals, and a detailed record review of 2303 tracer disease patients (1161 appendicitis patients and 1142 pneumonia patients) was used to identify unnecessary care.
The study found that bonus system change over time contributed significantly to the increase in hospital service revenue and hospital cost recovery. There was an increase in unnecessary care and in the probability of admission when the bonus system switched from one with a weaker incentive to increase services to one with a stronger incentive, suggesting that improvement in the financial health of public hospitals was achieved at least in part through the provision of more unnecessary care and drugs and through admitting more patients.
There was little evidence that the performance-related pay system as designed by the sample of Chinese public hospitals was socially desirable. Hospitals should be monitored more closely by the government, and regulations applied to limit opportunistic behaviour. Otherwise, the containment of government financing for public facilities may result in an increase in the provision of unnecessary care, an increase in health costs to society, and a waste in social resources.
This article reviews the impact of successive experiments in the development of primary care organisations in England and assesses the long-term importance of English primary care groups for the integration of health and community and health and social care and the deinstitutionalisation of hospital care.
Governments in a number of Western countries are attempting to improve the efficiency, appropriateness and equity of their health systems. One of the main ways of doing this is to devolve provision and commissioning responsibility from national and regional organisations to more local agencies based in primary care. Such primary care organisations are allocated budgets that span both primary and secondary (hospital) services and also, potentially, social care.
This article is based on a systematic review of the literature forthcoming from the UK Government's Department of Health-funded evaluations of successive primary care organisational developments. These include total purchasing pilots, GP commissioning group pilots, personal medical services pilots and primary care groups and trusts.
Primary care organisations in England have proved to be a catalyst in facilitating the development of integrated care working between primary and community health services. Conversely, primary care organisations have proved less effective in promoting integration between health and social care agencies where most progress has been made at the strategic commissioning level. The development of primary care trusts in England is heralding an end to traditional community hospitals.
The development of primary care groups in England are but an intermediate step of a policy progression towards future primary care-based organisations that will functionally integrate primary and community health services with local authority services under a single management umbrella.
primary care; integrated care; managed care; England
Infertility patients are a vulnerable group that often seeks a non-medical solution for their failure to conceive. World-wide, women use CAM for productive health, but only a limited number of studies report on CAM use to enhance fertility. Little is known about traditional and religious forms of therapies that are used in relation to conventional medicine in Turkey. We investigated the prevalence and types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) used by infertile Turkish women for fertility enhancement.
A face-to-face questionnaire inquiring demographic information and types of CAM used for fertility enhancement were completed by hundred infertility patients admitted to a primary care family planning centre in Van, Turkey between January and July 2009.
The vast majority of infertile women had used CAM at least once for infertility. CAM use included religious interventions, herbal products and recommendations of traditional "hodja's" (faith healers). Of these women, 87.8% were abused in the last 12 months, 36.6% felt not being supported by her partner and 80.5% had never spoken with a physician about CAM.
Infertile Turkish women use complementary medicine frequently for fertility enhancement and are in need of information about CAM. Religious and traditional therapies are used as an adjunct to, rather than a substitute for, conventional medical therapy. Physicians need to approach fertility patients with sensitivity and should be able to council their patients about CAM accordingly.
Medically unexplained symptoms in young people can present a challenge for primary care physicians to manage. Despite the prevalence of this clinical problem, physicians feel ill-equipped to deal with it. Families may attribute symptoms to an organic cause, despite the absence of identified pathology, and often resist considering psychosocial contributing factors. The present article outlines the key principles in the management of medically unexplained symptoms. Treatment focuses on building a therapeutic alliance with the patient and the family, the use of psychotherapeutic interventions and the role of psychopharmacology. A family-oriented rehabilitative approach to care, with a focus on functional improvement rather than symptom reduction, is emphasized.
Medically unexplained; Paediatric management; Symptoms
Unattached patients do not have a regular primary care provider. Initiatives are being developed to increase attachment rates across Canada. Most existing attention paid to patient unattachment has focused on quantifying the problem and health system costs. Our purpose is to qualitatively identify the implications of chronically ill patients’ experiences of unattachment for health policy and planning to provide policy-relevant insights for Canadian attachment initiatives.
Three focus groups were conducted with marginalized chronically ill individuals residing in a mid-sized city in British Columbia who are unattached to a family doctor. We use the term marginalized as a descriptor to acknowledge that by virtue of their low socio-economic status and lack of attachment the participants are marginalized in Canada’s health care system Focus groups were structured as an open conversation organized around a series of probing questions. They were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was employed.
Twenty-six individuals participated in the focus groups. The most common chronic illnesses reported were active drug addiction or recovery (and their associated symptoms), depression, arthritis, and hepatitis C. Participants identified life transitions as being the root cause for not having a family doctor. There was a strong sense that unsuccessful attempts to get a family doctor reflected that they were undesirable patients. Participants wanted to experience having a trusting relationship with a regular family doctor as they believed it would encourage greater honesty and transparency. One of the main health concerns regarding lack of access to a regular family doctor is that participants lacked access to preventative care. Participants were also concerned about having a discontinuous medical record due to unattachment.
Participants perceived that there are many benefits to be had by having attachment to a regular family doctor and that experiencing unattachment challenged their health and access to health care. We encourage more research to be done on the lived experience of unattachment in order to provide on-the-ground insights that policy-makers require in order to develop responsive, patient-centred supports and programs.
One of the main barriers for further improving the quality of chronic care was the absence of performance-based financing. With the introduction of a Diagnosis-Based Costing method (DBC) within primary care, a new organisational model is implemented in the region Maastricht. This integrated care model includes all relevant stakeholders, such as GPs, district nurses, dieticians, nurse practitioners, practice assistants, physiotherapists and hospital-based specialists. Aim is to optimise the quality of fragmented primary care for chronically ill within the existing budget restraints or, if even possible, to diminish the present costs for chronic care.
Context and data sources
Increasing prevalence of chronic illnesses, an ageing society and the observation that existing care systems approach mostly insufficiently to specific health problems and patients' needs asked for redesigning the existing healthcare system. We started by focussing on primary diabetes and COPD care. For the delivery of diabetes and COPD care within the entire primary care setting health care insurance companies contract with GPs only. GPs act as gatekeepers and coordinate the delivery of care within the primary care setting. Evidence-based medical guidelines and evidence about the organisation of respectively integrated diabetes and COPD care were used to outline care in multidisciplinary protocols. Referral criteria for secondary care are formulated as well. Within this protocol hospital-based specialists deliver specialized care while working in the GPs electronic patient file.
In 2007 and 2008, respectively 6390 and 6700 diabetes patients, derived form 87 GPs, have been included in the DBC-cohorts. The DBC COPD has been implemented in October last year, until now 2253 patients are registered. DBCs for cardiovascular diseases and for depression and anxiety are under construction and will be implemented by the end of this year. All healthcare givers register their delivered care into the same electronic patient file.
Based on the preliminary data it can be concluded that the integrated care model has been adopted by professionals in the primary care setting, patients and the health care insurance companies. Moreover, agreement has been reached in the process of care delivery, the indicators for performance-based costing and the collection of data for care and research purposes.
Matches and gaps between the actual delivered care and the protocol are explained by the Chronic Care Model and the Management Control Theory (an article is accepted for international publication). Patient outcomes, cost-effectiveness and benefits of these programmes are now subject of investigation. The main challenge for the future is to answer the question whether such disease-specific driven approaches remain suitable for patients suffering from more than one chronic disease (multi-morbidity).
quality; chronic care
OBJECTIVE--To examine changes in primary care in London in the 11 years since the Acheson report on primary health care in inner London. DESIGN--Analysis of key data from the family health services authority performance indicators and from the Department of Health; study of trends since the time of the Acheson report; examination of the provision of primary care in 1990-1 and its relation to health and social factors. SETTING--Comparisons between the family health services authorities of inner London, outer London, and England as a whole, with a special study of Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester. SUBJECTS--The family health services authorities of England. RESULTS--There has been an improvement in the provision of primary care in inner London as judged by the criteria of the Acheson report, but these improvements have occurred only as part of an overall improvement in the provision of primary care in the country as a whole. None of the recommendations of the Acheson report specifically oriented to London have been implemented. There are some worrying trends in inner London, such as the increasing proportion of practices with more than 2500 patients. The problems faced by practitioners in inner London resemble those in other large inner city areas, but the primary care provision to deal with them is relatively poor.
There is much to do in primary care and little time to do it. Currently, primary care delivery is organized around visits, often 15 minutes or less, during which much is expected of clinicians. This includes establishing partnerships with patient and families; addressing acute and chronic biomedical and psychosocial problems; prevention, care coordination; and ensuring informed decision-making that respects patients’ needs and preferences. Visit-based care discriminates against socially disadvantaged patients, who often require more time due to complex health care needs and the challenge of establishing partnerships and communicating across chasms of race, ethnicity, education, language, and culture. Rushed visits exacerbate disparities in health car due to competing demands, miscommunications and activation of unconscious physician stereotypes. Addressing health care disparities requires radical transformation in the structure and financing of primary care and the roles of the health care team members and patients. One such innovation, the patient-centered medical home, organizes care around patients’ needs, not visits. Thus, face-to-face visits and physician-centered care are supplanted by team-based care that relies on multiple communication modalities, expanded health information technology, population management, culturally-sensitive outreach and follow-up, and coaching patients to assume more active roles in care. Implementation requires payment reform that allocates resources based on the true costs of providing high quality care to socially disadvantaged patients. Ensuring success will require physician leadership and training in new care models, transformation in primary care culture, and redesign of care around the needs of patients, particularly those needing care the most.
In contrast to the considerable evidence of inequitable distribution of health, little is known about how health services (particularly primary care services) are distributed in less developed countries. Using a version of primary health care system questionnaire, this pilot study in Thailand assessed policies related to the provision of primary care, particularly with regard to attempts to distribute resources equitably, adequacy of resources, comprehensiveness of services, and co-payment requirement. Information on other main attributes of primary health care policy was also ascertained.
Questionnaire survey of 5 policymakers, 5 academicians, and 77 primary care practitioners who were attending a workshop on primary care. Descriptive statistics with Fischer's exact test were used for data analysis.
All policymakers and academicians completed the mailed questionnaire; the response rate among the practitioners was 53.25% (41 out of 77). However, the responses from all three groups were consistent in reporting that (1) financial resources were allocated based on different health needs and special efforts were made to assure primary care services to the needy or underserved population, (2) the supply of essential drugs was adequate, (3) clinical services were distributed equitably, (4) out-of-pocket payment was low, and that some primary health care attributes, particularly longitudinality (patients are seen by same doctor or team each time they make a visit), coordination, and family- and community-orientation were satisfactory. Geographical variations were present, suggesting inequitable distribution of primary care across regions. The questionnaire was robust across key stakeholders and feasible for use in a transitional country.
A primary care systems questionnaire administered to different types of health professionals was able to show that resource distribution was equitable at a national level but some aspects of primary care practice across regions is still of concern, in at least in this transitional country.
Interventions designed to improve the delivery of primary care, including Patient-Centered Medical Homes and electronic health records, require an understanding of clinical workflow to be successfully implemented. However, there is a lack of tools to describe and study primary care physician workflow. We developed a comprehensive list of primary care physician tasks that occur during a face-to-face patient visit.
A validated list of tasks performed by primary care physicians during patient clinic visits was developed from a secondary data analysis of observation data from two studies evaluating primary care workflow. Thirty primary care physicians participated from a convenience sample of 17 internal medicine and family medicine clinics in Wisconsin and Iowa across rural and urban settings and community and academic settings.
The final task list has 12 major tasks, 189 subtasks, and 191 total tasks. The major tasks are: Enter Room, Gather Information from Patient, Review Patient Information, Document Patient Information, Perform, Recommend / Discuss Treatment Options, Look Up, Order, Communicate, Print / Give Patient (advice, instructions), Appointment Wrap-up, and Leave Room. Additional subcodes note use of paper or EHR and the presence of a caregiver or medical student.
The task list presented here is a tool that will help clinics study their workflows so they can plan for changes that will take place because of EHR implementation and/or transformation to a patient centered medical home.