University of Southern California

Several years ago, the Future of Family Medicine (FFM) project was undertaken by the AAFP and other family medicine organizations to determine what patients want and need from the health care system – and what role family physicians play. In 2004, recommendations were made to create a “new model of care” in which family medicine would redesign the work and workplaces of family physicians to better care for patients and communities.

The family medicine model of care aims to reintegrate and personalize health care for patients, who are increasingly frustrated with the fragmented and complex health care system. It is a deviation from traditional models of care, including specialist care, in that it is patient-centered versus physician-centered.

The model provides patients with a personal medical home through which they receive a full range of services within the context of a continuing relationship with their family physician. Family physicians deliver acute, chronic and preventive care, either directly or indirectly through established relationships with clinicians outside their practice. The AAFP believes that family physicians are well suited for this important role. Unlike other specialties that are limited to a particular organ, disease, age or sex, family medicine integrates care for male and female patients of all ages within the context of community and advocates for the patient in an increasingly complex health care system. In other words, family physicians are dedicated to treating the whole person.

Implementation of the family medicine model of care includes:

  • Using a team approach to care.
  • Reducing barriers to care by such means as open access scheduling, expanded office hours and improved communication between office staff and patients.
  • Implementing advanced informational systems, including the integration of electronic health records (EHRs).
  • Putting an emphasis on quality and safety.
  • Providing care in the context of the individual and the community.

There is growing support for the medical home as evidenced by the endorsement of this concept by a number of organizations including the Association of American Medical Colleges and the formation of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative.