University of Southern California

Primary Care  |  Family Medicine

Banner " "

Primary Care/ Family Medicine/ Community Medicine

What is Primary Care?

The Institute of Medicine defines primary care as “the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community.” According to a 2008 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), research shows that “the nation’s over reliance on specialty care services, at the expense of primary care, leads to a health care system that is less efficient.” The GAO also acknowledges that there is research showing that “preventive care, care coordination for the chronically ill, and continuity of care – all hallmarks of primary care medicine – can achieve better health outcomes and cost savings.”

Simply put, primary care is the backbone of the health care system. Utilizing primary care physicians puts an emphasis on the physician-patient relationship by shifting the focus from physician-centered care to patient-centered care.