Person Centered Medicine and the Primary Care Team – securing continuity of care

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Chris van Weel
Annemarie Uijen
Henk Schers


In the community, patients consult family physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists and other allied health professionals for all the health problems that patients decide to present with. The principle of primary health care is that there is no operational selection of health problems, in terms of diagnosis, organ system, severity of patient category: it is for all patients, with all possible health problems, in all stages [1]. The everyday reality of primary health care is, nevertheless, that patients seek professional care for only a small minority (around 10 %) of the health problems they experience [2, 3] and most of these are treated within the primary care setting. As the community is where most of the people, with most of health problems are most of the time, it is the obvious place to promote health and prevention and to detect and manage diseases. This lends to primary health care its quintessential focus: that of individuals, who, in the context of their living and family environment, make contact for a variety of illness and disease, often over many years. This makes person-centered medicine a core characteristic of primary health care. This brings to primary health care the need to respond to individual reasons for contact and to do so consistently over time. Consistency is related to ‘continuity of care’ [4]. As primary health care is multidisciplinary in nature, the challenge for responsiveness and consistency is for the team and not only for the individual provider. Here, we analyse the role of ‘responsiveness’, ‘continuity of care’ and team work’ in securing an approach that is centered on the person in the provision of (primary care) medicine.

Article Details

Third Geneva Conference on Person-Centered Medicine: The Team Approach
Author Biography

Chris van Weel, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen

Professor of Family Medicine and Chair of the Department of Primary and Community Care, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands Founder and Chair of the EU Erasmus exchange programme Primary Care for medical students. Prof van Weel's academic work is directed at teaching and research in primary care. This has resulted in the development of a community oriented curriculum (introduced in 1995) in which primary care plays a leading role. His research programme of chronic diseases in family practice is part of the Nijmegen Centre 'Evidence Based medical Practice' and the Netherlands School of Primary Care Research (CaRe) of which he is one of the founders. An academic practice based research network provides the essential data for this programme: The Nijmegen Continuous Morbidity Registration / Monitoring Project. In 2009 he was appointed Principal Investigator of the Radboud University Medical Centre.Awards and distinctions:Honorary Fellow Hong Kong College of Family Physicians, June 2009Honorary Fellow Philippine Academy of Family Physicians, 2009Maurice Wood Award NAPCRG, 2008Officer Order of Oranje-Nassau, 2007Honorary Member Dutch College of General Practitioners, 2007Honorary Fellow Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, 2007Eric Elder Medal, Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, 2006Honorary Doctorate (Doctor Honoris Causa), University of Ghent, Belgium, 2003Honorary Member Italian Academy of Family Physicians (DIMF) 2000 William Pickles Lecturer, Royal College of General Practitio­ners, Nottingham, 1992. Honorary Fellow Royal College of General Practitioners, UK, 1991. From 2007 – 2010 Prof van Weel was President of  Wonca, the World Organization of Family Doctors.