Practical Playbook Offers Roadmap for Integrating Primary Care, Public Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224

WASHINGTON, DC — An effort that began in March 2012 has coalesced into a textbook that will be used in medical school and family medicine residency curricula to help spur integration of public health and family medicine.

The textbook, The Practical Playbook: Public Health and Primary Care Together, brings together the expertise of primary care and public health in response to recommendations of the 2012 Institutes of Medicine report, “Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health.”  The IOM called for greater integration of primary care and public health.

Primary care and public health have natural links that strengthen each other, according to Julie Wood, MD, senior vice president for Health of the Public and Interprofessional Activities at the American Academy of Family Physicians. She described those links in her contribution, “Primary Care and Public Health: Partners for Population Health,” to the Practical Playbook.

“By using the strategies outlined in the Practical Playbook, we will be able to better leverage the critical public health infrastructure, which has evolved over more than 200 years into a sophisticated, front-line service protecting those of us who live in the United States,” Wood wrote. “Pair the public health organizational structure with the patient-centered medical home – wherein a team of health care professionals provides preventive and medical care in the context of family and community – and an unstoppable health care force is created.”

Andrew Bazemore, MD, MPH, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, agreed. Reviewing the factors that contribute to both the shortage and maldistribution of primary care physicians, Bazemore points to the effectiveness of care teams – within the medical practice as well as in the community – in meeting patients’ needs.

“To mitigate the expected shortfall of primary care providers, broader teams and coalitions are required,” he wrote in the Practical Playbook’s chapter, “The Changing Landscape of Primary Care.” “The new era of patient-centered primary care delivery requires tasks to be shared across a broad team. Primary care transformation is already expanding the roles of nurses, physician assistants, medical assistants, pharmacists, nutritionists, behaviorists and care coordinators in the care of patients and populations.”

Equally important, he added, is broader community engagement that enables primary care professionals to address the social determinants of health. “To address these factors more effectively, practices must better leverage and partner with community resources.”


About the Robert Graham Center

The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care works to improve individual and population health by enhancing the delivery of primary care. The Center staff generates and analyzes evidence that brings a family medicine and primary care perspective to health policy deliberations at local, state, and national levels.

Founded in 1999, the Robert Graham Center is an independent research unit affiliated with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The information and opinions contained in research from the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the AAFP.