WHAT IS PRIMARY MEDICAL CARE?

An essential element of any health care system is primary medical care. All Americans should have access to a health professional trained to provide quality primary medical care as their entry point to the system. Such primary care physicians provide:

  • first-contact care for persons with any undiagnosed sign, symptom, or health concern;
  • comprehensive care for the person which is not organ- or problem- specific;
  • longitudinal or continuous care for the patient;
  • responsibility for coordinating other health services as they relate to the patient's care.

WHAT ARE PRIMARY CARE COMPETENCIES?

Physicians who deliver comprehensive primary medical care are uniquely trained in how to:

  • recognize early symptoms of serious disease;
  • distinguish between self-limited illnesses and problems requiring further medical intervention;
  • perform time-efficient histories, physicals, and diagnoses carried out at the quick pace required in most ambulatory care settings;
  • provide screening and counseling to prevent disease;
  • communicate with a variety of patients in a long-term relationship;
  • access and utilize social and financial resources for patients.