Person-Centered Primary Health Care: Now More Than Ever

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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. 

Article Details

Regular Articles
Author Biography

Ted Epperly, Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, Boise; and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle

Ted Epperly, M.D., FAAFP, a family physician in Boise, Idaho, is the immediate past board chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians.  Previously, he served one-year terms as president and president-elect and three years as a member of the AAFP Board of Directors.Epperly is program director and chief executive officer of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, Boise.  He also is clinical professor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.  As AAFP board chair, Epperly advocates on behalf of family physicians and patients nationwide to inspire positive change in the U.S. health care system.A member of the AAFP since 1980, Epperly has advocated in many ways on behalf of family medicine and the patients the specialty serves.  He has utilized his academic experience in a variety of roles on the Commission on Education, including being the chairman.  He chaired the Program Directors Workshop Planning Committee for the Family Medicine Residency Directors National Workshop for three years.  He also has served as AAFP board liaison to the Commission of Practice Enhancement, Commission on Continuing Professional Development and the Commission on Health of the Public.Epperly has held all the elected positions in the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians, including president.  He joined the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians when he retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Army in 2001 and returned to his home state of Idaho.Epperly earned his bachelor’s degree at Utah State University, Logan, graduating magna cum laude.  He earned his medical degree at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and completed his residency at Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Washington, where he served as chief resident.  He completed a family medicine faculty development fellowship at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.Epperly is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine with a Certificate of Added Qualification in Geriatrics.  He also has the AAFP Degree of Fellow, an earned degree awarded to family physicians for distinguished service and continuing medical education.Epperly is a member of the editorial board of the Annals of Family Medicine and the advisory board of Men’s Health.  He also is a reviewer for the Annals of Family Medicine and American Family Physician.  He was a residency assistance program consultant before becoming a member of the Accreditation Council for the Graduate Medical Education Residency Review Committee for family medicine, which is responsible for the accreditation of the nation’s family medicine residencies, sports medicine and geriatrics fellowships.Epperly serves as a commissioner of the Central District Board of Health for the four-county area surrounding Boise.  In addition, he has published more than 45 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters, and given hundreds of lectures nationally and internationally.  Epperly has done over 500 media interviews with all major TV, radio, newspapers and magazines.  He has met and spoken with President Obama on several occasions including the oval office and testified before Congress on multiple occasions about the centrality and importance of family medicine.  Modern Healthcare ranks Epperly as one of the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare regarding health care in our nation.


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