Jan 21, 2015

Interviewer: There's a new health campaign from the nation's family physician that is pushing towards putting the patient at the center of health care. We're talking about the Health is Primary campaign, next on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.
We're talking today with Dr. Kyle Bradford Jones, family physician at the University of Utah. In the past it has always been the physicians and the payers, like insurance companies, that have always been kind of the voice of patient care, essentially. This new movement, Health is Primary, is making the patient at the center of everything, correct?

Dr. Jones: Exactly. It seems kind of backwards that the patient has been somewhat forgotten and not focused on as much in the way the healthcare system is structured. The Health is Primary campaign comes from the eight largest family medicine groups in the nation that are coming together to make the patient more at the center.
When you talk about health care in this country, there's what's called the triple aim which is to improve the quality of health care and decrease the cost in a way that satisfies the patient and puts them at the center.
Historically, in many ways doctors and third-payer insurances have been put at the center. This is a transition.

Interviewer: So exactly what is this campaign wanting to do? What are the steps that the campaign is taking in order to put the patient at the center?

Dr. Jones: First of all, there's a big media campaign of making patients more aware of primary care and how that can help them to put them at the center. There's been multiple studies that show that primary care physicians improve that triple aim. If you have good access to a primary care physician you have on average 33% less cost for your health care, you have decreased hospitalizations, you have improved quality of care, more preventive care, you live longer and you're happier with what you get in your health care.
Part of this campaign is going to be improving patient understanding of the benefits of primary care, improving access to primary care by expanding the use of teams in what's called the patient-centered medical home, and improving the training of family physicians so that we can get more primary care physicians out there to improve the access.

Interviewer: I'm assuming patients are thrilled about this campaign, but as you've mentioned before, it's always been the physicians and third-party insurance companies that have always had the bigger voice. How are they feeling about this new campaign?

Dr. Jones: In many ways they're very excited about it, simply because they are beginning to recognize, payers in particular, the importance of primary care and that it does help achieve that triple aim. And as we moved towards getting patients at the center, obviously we want patient involvement. You can't put patients at the center unless they're involved.
Many clinics are now creating patient advisory panels which is a huge help to get that perspective on, "Hey, this is working. This isn't working. This is what we need to do." The next time you see your primary care provider ask them if they have that. If they do, offer to participate, and if they don't, ask them why they don't and push for it, because that's a huge part of this, to make this patient-centered.

Interviewer: You said that this campaign is just starting, and you haven't really seen it around Utah as much. When do you think it's going to take off?

Dr. Jones: There's been a few things in the national media. There will also be some representatives traveling to some of the bigger cities around the country to talk about this more, but it's been a very important thing. To point out, the University of Utah is doing a number of things like this. One of the aspects of this is to improve communication between the physician and the patient. The University of Utah, they have My Chart which is a way you can access your medical records and get more in touch with your physician.
The University is also participating in significant efforts to improve the quality that they provide at a lower cost, and increase the emphasis on primary care.

Interviewer: Any other final thoughts on this new Health is Primary campaign?

Dr. Jones: Yeah, just that the evidence shows that a robust primary care system is the answer to supporting patients and making it patient-centered, achieving the triple aim. And contact your family physician. Let them know that you support this and that you want to help make this a patient-centered system.

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