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Keywords:

  • patient-centered care;
  • primary care;
  • quality of care

Patient-centered care has received new prominence with its inclusion by the Institute of Medicine as 1 of the 6 aims of quality. Seven attributes of patient-centered primary care are proposed here to improve this dimension of care: access to care, patient engagement in care, information systems, care coordination, integrated and comprehensive team care, patient-centered care surveys, and publicly available information. The Commonwealth Fund 2003 National Survey of Physicians and Quality of Care finds that one fourth of primary care physicians currently incorporate these various patient-centered attributes in their practices. To bring about marked improvement will require a new system of primary care payment that blends monthly patient panel fees with traditional fee-for-service payment, and new incentives for patient-centered care performance. A major effort to test this concept, develop a business case, provide technical assistance and training, and diffuse best practices is needed to transform American health care.