Primary care physicians’ role in coordinating medical and health-related social needs in eleven countries

Health Affairs

Primary care physicians in the US, like their colleagues in several other high-income countries, are increasingly tasked with coordinating services delivered not just by specialists and hospitals but also by home care professionals and social service agencies. To inform efforts to improve care coordination, the 2019 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians queried primary care physicians in eleven high-income countries about their ability to coordinate patients’ medical care with specialists, across settings of care, and with social service providers. Compared to physicians in other countries, substantial proportions of US physicians did not routinely receive timely notification or the information needed for managing ongoing care from specialists, after-hours care centers, emergency departments, or hospitals. Primary care practices in a handful of countries, including the US, are not routinely exchanging information electronically outside the practice. Top-performing countries demonstrate the feasibility of improving two-way communication between primary care and other sites of care. The surveyed countries share the challenge of coordinating with social service providers, and the results call for solutions to support primary care physicians.

Doty MM, Tikkanen R, Shah A, Schneider EC. Primary Care Physicians' Role In Coordinating Medical And Health-Related Social Needs In Eleven Countries. Health Aff (Millwood). 2020;39(1):115-123. PMID: 31821045. DOI:

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