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Person-Centered Primary Health Care: Now More Than Ever

Ted Epperly, Richard Roberts, Salman Rawaf, Chris Van Weel, Robert Phillips, Juan E. Mezzich, Yongyuth Pongsupap, Tesfamicael Ghebrehiwet, James Appleyard



Background: Person-centered primary health care provides first contact care that is comprehensive, continuous, accessible, compassionate, caring, team-based, and above all else person-centered. Primary care by its very nature is integrative in design and process. It connects and coordinates care for the person and uses shared decision making to help value and respect the person’s choices as they navigate through a complex and fragmented health care system.


Objectives: To demonstrate the effectiveness of primary care in achieving the triple aim of better health, better health care, and lower cost.


Methods: Critical literature review and evidence based analysis of person-centered primary health care across the world.


Results: Primary care is a systems integrator and improves both the quality of care and the lowering of cost to both people and populations. It has been found that the better a country’s primary care system is, the country will have better overall health care outcomes and lower per capita health care expenditures. Evidence also demonstrates that person-centeredness contributes to higher quality care and better health outcomes. Comprehensiveness of care leads to better health outcomes, lower all-cause mortality, better access to care, less re-hospitalization, fewer consultations with specialists, less use of emergency services, and better detection of adverse effects of medical interventions. The use of the relationship of trust established through primary care health professionals in shared decision making is an effective and efficient means to promote behavior change that results in the triple aim of better health, improved healthcare, and lower costs.


Conclusions: All nations must build a robust and vibrant person-centered primary health care system based on the principles of continuity, comprehensiveness, and person-centeredness. This is important now more than ever to prioritize and rebalance health care systems to address the health care needs of the people that are served.



Person-Centered, Primary Care, Family Medicine, Integrated Care, Coordinated Care, Alma-Ata Declaration

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