HJAR Mar/Apr 2020

38 MAR / APR 2020 I  HEALTHCARE JOURNAL OF ARKANSAS COMMUNITY HEALTH DIALOGUE COLUMN COMMUNITY HEALTH When we are targeted and intentional in delivering primary care that places patients and providers in lock-step as co-collaborates, we achieve measurable, markedly better health outcomes. There is con- sistent and growing evidence of that fact, and of how intentionality also saves dollars. That starting point and foundational fact is cru- cial to addressing social determinants of health, and to narrowing the gaps separating the have-nots and the haves of healthcare. STAKEHOLDERS and policy-makers some- times underscore how primary care, offered during regular, scheduled times, absolutely enhance healthcare quality and control costs in ways that comparatively high-cost rescue, or emergent care, does not. Yet, there is still little focus on the oppor- tunities that primary-care systems offer to the population in the state and nation. We are, in fact, underinvesting in primary care. That underinvestment, that short-changing leaves us a long distance away from the ho- listic care to which we seem to continually pay lip service. The value of primary care must be further appreciated. Such a posi- tive change in thought would demonstrate the importance of effective primary care services by putting to action an improved delivery system for quality healthcare that would lead to improved health outcomes and reduced disparities. The general public has little knowledge of the efficacy of primary care, its impact on individual and popula- tion health, and its role in today’s healthcare delivery, including how primary care is es- sential when addressing social determinants of health (SDOH). The American Academy of Family Phy- sicians defines SDOH as the conditions under which people are born, grow, live (or languish), work (or unwittingly watch from the sidelines), and age. SDOH factors include socioeconomic status, poverty, in- come inequality, and the lack of community resources. Whether it is through addressing SDOH, incorporating value-based care, providing efficient case management, reducing the In- ternet disparities, or even through utilizing community health workers, primary care sys- tems must be seen as a vital component for the holistic care of the population. We should not be an afterthought. Through the use of value-based care initiatives, primary care clinicians are at their best when they part- ner with patients to help them adopt healthy behaviors, manage chronic conditions, and better navigate the healthcare systems, all of ONWHAT’S PRIMARY FOCUS