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Scientifica
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 432892, 22 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.6064/2012/432892
Review Article

The Impact of Primary Care: A Focused Review

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

Received 27 September 2012; Accepted 8 November 2012

Academic Editors: K. Eriksson, A. P. Giardino, G. Mastrangelo, and P. J. Schluter

Copyright © 2012 Leiyu Shi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Primary care serves as the cornerstone in a strong healthcare system. However, it has long been overlooked in the United States (USA), and an imbalance between specialty and primary care exists. The objective of this focused review paper is to identify research evidence on the value of primary care both in the USA and internationally, focusing on the importance of effective primary care services in delivering quality healthcare, improving health outcomes, and reducing disparities. Literature searches were performed in PubMed as well as “snowballing” based on the bibliographies of the retrieved articles. The areas reviewed included primary care definitions, primary care measurement, primary care practice, primary care and health, primary care and quality, primary care and cost, primary care and equity, primary care and health centers, and primary care and healthcare reform. In both developed and developing countries, primary care has been demonstrated to be associated with enhanced access to healthcare services, better health outcomes, and a decrease in hospitalization and use of emergency department visits. Primary care can also help counteract the negative impact of poor economic conditions on health.