Directors Corner | July 2020 | We Need (to Buy More) Primary Care More Than Ever

For the last 30 years, the way we’ve purchased healthcare and provided health benefits has provided powerful financial incentives for hospitals to consolidate into financially-focused health juggernauts that have almost single-mindedly chased the rewards of highly compensated services and elective procedures.   Then, when a pandemic (that had been predicted for at least a decade) hit, we were surprised that neither our hospitals nor our country was prepared with a genuinely systemic strategy for addressing health and mitigating disease. Almost if we were an undeveloped country and despite spending two to three times more money than other countries, we didn’t have enough medical supplies.

In a “market-based” health world that sort of monumental failure doesn’t reflect on how providers provide nearly as much as it does on how purchasers have purchased – largely through third parties with their own distinct financial interests.  Healthcare may be complex but the law of supply and demand is simple:  what gets paid the most gets done the most.  And in this case, its lessons are unavoidable:  We’ve gotten exactly what we (through blindly relying on others) have paid for.  If we want a system focused on healthcare, rather than making more and more money, we must – we simply MUST – change the way we purchase healthcare.   Among other things, that means we must buy more primary care.

A recent Commonwealth Fund article and interview with health policy expert

Farzad Mostashari, M.D explains how primary care providers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, treating sick patients even as they worry about the financial stability of their practices and bringing the virus home to their families.  In this important and timely latest episode of The Dose podcast, Dr. Mostashari “explains what it will take to ensure doctors can continue caring for Americans throughout the pandemic.”