Advocacy Toolkit

Talking Points to Position Academic Family Medicine in Health Systems

Family physicians are uniquely qualified to be in leadership positions in health systems.

  • Family physicians have broad medical training with an understanding of how specialties work together for optimal patient health.
  • “Family physicians are well positioned to take the lead in implementing health system reforms that improve value and patient-oriented outcomes.”1
  • Family physicians have received training on effective communication.

Health systems should have comprehensive family medicine clinics.

  • Family physicians are the answer to the primary care shortage in health systems. They are trained to diagnose and treat a broad range of diseases and conditions in patients of all ages.
  • On average, family physicians generate nine times their income in hospital revenue – a higher ROI than most specialties.2
  • Nurse practitioners and PAs play an important role in family medicine practices, allowing for larger patient panel sizes and a broader scope of practice for family physicians. This team-based care is an effective strategy to mitigate the undersupply of primary care physicians. 3
  • Family physician job descriptions should reflect family medicine’s unique, broad scope.
  • Family physicians are uniquely qualified to care for patients with complex multimorbidity, behavioral health, and social issues – and to understand how to do that within the context of family and community, helping health systems meet their commitments to communities.

Family medicine is underutilized.

  • Health care systems based on primary care have better quality of care, better population health, greater equity, and lower cost.4
  • Family medicine is more than a referral source.
  • Family medicine training produces physicians who are versatile; this was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when family physicians led health systems changes, served as first point of contact for patients, rounded in COVID wards, set up vaccination clinics, and became community spokepersons and advocates.
  • Family medicine provides comprehensive, coordinated, team-based care directed at meeting the Quadruple Aim, which will be critical to health system profitability during and after the transition to fee-for-value payment.
  • Resources should be directed towards meeting the Person-Centered Primary Care Measures. Meeting the measures can help systems meet social missions for population health, equity, quality, and sustainable health care expenditures.
  • Enhancing the role of family medicine within health care systems is the only viable option for reducing hospital admissions.
  • Systems that seek to be successful with risk-based contracts need to make an investment in high-performing primary care teams to reduce the cost of care and improve outcomes.


  • Lin K. Family Physicians are Natural Health System Leaders. American Family Physician Community Blog. May 19, 2014.
  • Miller, P. New Survey Shows Physicians are Key Revenue Generators for Hospitals. Merritt Hawkins Physicians Staffing Blog. Accessed March 2, 2020.
  • Dai M, Ingham RC, Peterson LE. Scope of Practice and Patient Panel Size of Family Physicians Who Work With Nurse Practitioners or Physician Assistants. Fam Med. 2019;51(4):311-318.
  • Phillips R, Pugno P et al. Health Is Primary: Family Medicine for America’s Health. The Annals of Family Medicine. Oct 2014, 12 (Suppl 1) S1-S12; DOI: 10.1370/afm.1699


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