The overall health of a population is directly linked to the strength of its primary health care system. A strong primary care system delivers higher quality of care and better health for less cost. Primary care provides a medical home and considers the whole person, as they exist in family, community, and population, including multiple illnesses, preventive care, health promotion, and the integration of mind and body.
Primary care is:
- Complex and comprehensive
- Where most people first bring their symptoms and health concerns and have their first touch with the health care system
- Where people develop healing, trusting relationships with their physician and other primary care providers
Primary care research includes:
- Translating science into the practice of medicine and caring for patients
- Understanding how to better organize health care to meet patient and population needs
- Evaluating innovations to provide the best health care to patients
- Engaging patients, communities, and practices to improve health
The majority of health care takes place in primary care practices. And yet, the majority of research funding supports research of one specific disease, organ system, cellular or chemical process—not for primary care. Very little is known about important topics such as how primary care services are best organized, how to maximize and prioritize care, how to introduce and disseminate new discoveries so they work in real life, and how patients can best decide how and when to seek care.