Primary Care Practices Providing a Broader Range of Services Have Lower Medicare Expenditures and Emergency Department Utilization

Primary Care Practices Providing a Broader Range of Services Have Lower Medicare Expenditures and Emergency Department Utilization

This article was featured on the July 22, 2021 Lunch and Learn discussion. 

The Journal Club hosted two primary care researchers, Dr. Sanjay Basu, Director of Research at the Harvard Center for Primary Care, and Dr. Eugene Rich, Senior Fellow at Mathematica, who presented their papers, Association of Primary Care Physician Supply With Population Mortality in the United States, 2005-2015 and Primary Care Practices Providing a Broader Range of Services Have Lower Medicare Expenditures and Emergency Department Utilization.

Policy Discussion Highlights:

  • Expand team-based care:
    • Utilize the full range of the primary care workforce including mobile pharmacists, mobile health workers, social workers, and so on, allowing each profession to work at the top of their license.
    • Conduct more research on the range of services provided in practices that include NPs and PAs.
  • Integrate behavioral health and primary care:
    • When practices provide a broader range of services (including counseling), their Medicare beneficiaries subsequently experience fewer ED visits and lower total spending.
    • Include team members who have behavioral health skills and take advantage of existing primary care physician competencies.
      • E.g., family medicine has historically included training in basic mental health counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy.
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