Primary Care Physician’s Role

Continuity Sees patient regularly over time for a large proportion of the patient’s health encounters (providing longitudinal rather than cross-sectional care).
Comprehensiveness Cares for most of the patient’s health problems; capable of dealing with substantial comorbidity in those with multiple chronic problems.
Coordination For the minority of problems that require services from other providers, arranges the referral, test, or procedure and collates the results.
Contact—first Whenever possible, is willing to be the first provider the patient contacts for episodes of illness or health concerns.
Competence Practices evidence-based medicine; participates in continuing education; enhances practice through continuous quality improvement.
Cost-effectiveness Weighs benefits versus costs of care; sensitive to “economic C’s” such as capitation, copayments, carve-outs, and conflicts of interest.
Communication Communicates effectively with patients and other health care workers; uses computers skillfully for accessing literature and providing care.
Collaboration Comfortably works in teams involving specialty physicians and other health care workers; partners with patients by educating them, eliciting their preferences for care, and engaging in shared decision making.
Compliance Monitors and enhances patient compliance with medical advice; personally complies with practice guidelines, regulations, etc.
Competing demands Prioritizes within the brief time allocated for clinic visits a patient’s acute problems, chronic conditions, health maintenance, documentation, etc.


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