CHIA Releases Updated Dashboard to Measure the Health of the Primary Care System in Massachusetts

(May 2024)

The Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), in collaboration with MHQP, today released the latest primary care dashboard to monitor the health of the primary care system in the Commonwealth.

A high-functioning primary care system can lead to better patient outcomes, lower costs, and more equitable care. Access to these services improves overall population health and can reduce avoidable emergency department visits. Massachusetts residents and health care leaders have expressed concerns about the health and sustainability of primary care in Massachusetts, especially in the wake of the pandemic, which caused unprecedented disruptions across all health care settings.

CHIA and MHQP developed this dashboard to create a factual foundation to inform targeted policy solutions and investments as well as monitor the impact of such reforms.

This second iteration of the dashboard continues to track performance across four key areas: finance, capacity, performance, and equity. New metrics are included on childhood immunization status, medical school graduates entering the primary care field, and the percentage of residents who have a primary care provider as part of their plan design. The databook that accompanies the dashboard includes multi-year trends where data is available.

Key findings include:

  • In 2023, 41.2% of Massachusetts residents reported difficulty obtaining necessary health care in the past 12 months, an increase from 33.0% in 2021.
  • In 2022, primary care spending represented 6.4% of overall medical spending across all insurance categories.
  • In 2022, MassHealth MCO and ACO-As had the highest percentage of spending on primary care (7.5%), as well as the highest use of alternative payment methods.
  • 6% of physicians left primary care in Massachusetts in 2021, an increase from 3.1% in 2019.
  • Between 2018 and 2022, cervical cancer screening rates dropped by 5.2 percentage points.
  • There were substantial racial and ethnic disparities in access to and utilization of primary care. The downstream implications of such disparities are reflected in 2023 data that show Hispanic residents reporting higher rates of avoidable ED visits (51.3%) compared with all residents (36.2%).

Click HERE for all dashboard resources on the CHIA website

Click HERE to download a PDF of the dashboard

“Primary care services represent a critical component of the Massachusetts health care system and access to these services can meaningfully improve patient care and outcomes,” said Lauren Peters, Executive Director of the Center for Health Information and Analysis. “The ability to monitor and track the sustainability of the primary care system sets the Commonwealth apart nationally and creates a source of truth to anchor public policy discussions.”

“This dashboard continues to show that primary care is in crisis in Massachusetts, yet we are not giving it the attention it needs,” said MHQP’s CEO, Barbra Rabson. “Primary care is the foundation of our healthcare system. Primary care clinicians focus on keeping people healthy by providing preventive care, managing chronic diseases, and helping patients navigate our complicated system. The trends in this dashboard show us that we need to act now to protect and preserve our primary care system.”

Click HERE for more information about MHQP’s work to strengthen primary care

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