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Why Primary Care Holds the Key to Health Transformation

by Patrick Conway, MD, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina

In my experience as a practicing pediatrician and a leader of health care organizations, I’ve found that some of the most positive changes  to our health care system happen when we invest in primary care. When primary care physicians and clinicians are leading the care team, and when they have the resources to put patients truly at the center of care, we see improvements in patients’ health and experience.

This investment of time and resources is core to the pioneering work Aledade is doing to support independent primary care.

Primary care has a rightful place in leading health care transformation. More than half of all physician office visits are to primary care, yet it accounts for only about 8 percent of commercial medical spending in the U.S. This shows the incredible value we get out of primary care. But it also illustrates how little we as a nation invest in the physicians, physician assistants, nurses and office professionals who are on the front lines of helping patients get the best care possible.

I’m excited that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is working with Aledade to help independent primary care practices across our state transition to value-based care. We saw a need to work closely with these practices as we develop new payment models. By sharing more data and resources with these physicians, we can improve the quality of care for patients, better manage chronic diseases, and ultimately reduce health care costs. Aledade has the experience and knowledge to help us strengthen independent primary care in these areas.

So far, we’ve made good progress in North Carolina. A lot of eyes are on Blue Cross NC as we work to become a model of what’s possible in health care. 

Independent primary care is very much a part of this progress. For example, more than 50 practices serving 50,000 Blue Cross NC customers have enrolled in Aledade’s North Carolina ACOs since the start of the year.

We are proud of our partnership with Aledade and primary care clinicians. We share Farzad Mostashari and his team’s vision for helping independent primary care make the transition to value and lead the way to better care and lower costs.

That is why I have joined the Aledade Board of Directors. Working with the team at Aledade, we can make great progress in providing independent primary care practices with the resources they need to thrive in our value-based health care system.

Patrick Conway, MD, is President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and is the former Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is also a member of Aledade’s Board of Directors.