Enhanced primary care can refer to the inclusion of allied health services in a care model, or to a comprehensive health care plan that includes better coordination and communication to serve people with complex medical needs. The intended meaning is usually clear from the context when the term is used. In both cases, the goal is to improve patient outcomes, cut expenses associated with patient care, and create more satisfaction among users of the health care system.
Allied medical services can include activities like physiotherapy and massage. These may not be covered under a conventional health care plan. In enhanced primary care, if a physician feels these services would be beneficial for a patient’s condition and prescribes them, the health plan will pay for them. The number of visits may be limited per year.
Offering enhanced primary care to patients can improve outcomes. Some allied medical services offer benefits not available through traditional medical care; massage, for instance, may help a patient with fibromyalgia or pain after a car accident. By making sure these are available through a health plan, the plan can increase the chances that patients will receive adequate treatment. The care may also limit the risk of recurrence or help patients achieve independence after serious injuries.
In the sense of a coordinated plan, enhanced primary care is a patient-centered care model. Care providers work together to determine the patient’s needs and provide consistent high-quality treatment. This can include measures like helping the patient see the same care provider at each visit, following up at recommended intervals, and encouraging patients to take an active role in the development of management and treatment plans. Such plans can work inside medical facilities like hospitals as well as on an outpatient basis for people with chronic conditions who need frequent doctor visits.
Studies on enhanced primary care suggest that while coordinating care can require more labor and time initially, it can pay off in the long term. Such patients tend to do better, in addition to expressing more satisfaction with their quality of care. Coordinators like nurses and social workers can help patients achieve compliance with treatment and quickly identify problems that may arise over the course of care. For example, if a patient starts to develop complications, the ability to call a coordinating nurse at a hospital or clinic for an immediate consultation can increase the chances of catching and treating them early.