A Vision for the Future of Primary Care
Primary care is at a crossroads. In the fall of 2019, after Governor Baker proposed an unprecedented increase of investment in primary care and behavioral health in Massachusetts, MHQP convened a panel of experts and stakeholders focused on addressing threats to the sustainability of traditional primary care practices.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and many primary care practices found themselves struggling to survive amid substantial uncertainty. During these unsettling circumstances, MHQP convened a Roundtable including the panel of experts and stakeholders mentioned above (see list of participants here) to discuss a vision of primary care. We focused on two specific topic areas – access and payment systems –believing these to be the most critical and highly leverageable elements for the future of the primary care system. While COVID-19 created many challenges for the healthcare system, it also established a unique opportunity and an even greater urgency for payment and care delivery redesign changes that lead to a sustainable and equitable primary care system.
Achieving real, sustainable change in the post-pandemic world will require that we begin with a clear vision of the desired direction and destination. This is especially important with a challenge as complex as the primary care system. We believe the vision that emerged from the Roundtable meetings may be helpful in this regard. That vision, which is detailed below, coalesces around five themes. (You can click on each theme to reveal more detail.)
We seek a primary care system in which:
We hope this vision offers important guidance to practitioners and policymakers alike regarding the priorities we must address to strengthen and sustain primary care in the Commonwealth. While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted key vulnerabilities in primary care related to access and payment systems, it has also created a receptive environment and impetus to make significant changes to how primary care does its work and how it is paid. These changes will not be easy, but if pursued with care and creativity, they can lead to a more resilient, sustainable and equitable primary care system.
For MHQP’s part, our Board of Directors has endorsed this vision as a “north star” guidance for our continued work on primary care. We are currently exploring two possible paths forward as ways that MHQP can uniquely contribute to this effort:
- Convene payers and other stakeholders, including patients, to discuss basic alignment on capitation in order to advance primary care capitation in Massachusetts.
- Build a primary care dashboard for Massachusetts to create a more favorable environment for primary care and monitor progress in the state.
We welcome your feedback on these ideas and any other suggestions you might have for what MHQP can uniquely do to help strengthen and sustain primary care in Massachusetts.