Implementing High-Quality Primary Care Through a Health Equity Lens
Primary care, with its focus on the health of both individuals and communities, could play a key role in addressing health inequities. Leveraging health care systems knowledge from both Canada and the United States, this article applies a health equity lens to the 5 recommendations put forward in the 2021 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report: Implementing High-Quality Primary Care: Rebuilding the Foundation of Health Care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected health care service worldwide, and exacerbated and exposed systemic racial and ethnic health care inequities. Recently, the United States and Canada ranked last and next to last, respectively, in health equity, health care outcomes, and overall performance ranking among 11 high-income countries. Policy makers in the United States and Canada are therefore recognizing the need for primary care reform, and the particular need for strategies that lead to more equitable and accessible high-quality care.
Building on the NASM’s report’s framework, the authors identified health equity challenges and opportunities with examples from primary care systems in the United States and Canada. Noting that the recent pandemic and the attention to continued racialized police violence have sparked renewed conversations and collaborations around equity, diversity, inclusion, and health equity, the authors provide guidance on transitioning those conversations into actionable items to improve the health of patients, families, and communities.