Population-Based Primary Care

The health of a community depends on many people and processes, and on people working together to take care of one another.  Income, environment, culture, language, trust, tradition, religion, and cooperation  -- as well as services like education, police and fire protection, sanitation, and medical care – all coordinate to make a place and its people more or less healthy.

Because the United States has no organized health care system as such, it is sometimes difficult for communities to organize the medical services that impact people’s health.  More difficult yet is the task of directing our health care that they focus on maintaining both the health of individuals and the health of the community as a whole.

Population-based primary care is a way to provide health services so that the health of both individuals and the community as a whole is maintained and improved.  A population-based primary care practice is a medical practice that aims to provide 90 percent of the health services people need in a way that interests 90 percent of the people in a community in using that practice.  Population-based primary care allows a medical practice to collaborate with other community organizations and business, such as town government, schools, health clubs, police, fire and rescue departments, at the same time as it makes sure all town residents receive all the health services they need.

Population-based primary care does not exist in the United States –yet – though it does exist in other countries, other countries where costs a lower and people are healthier.

Little Scituate, Rhode Island, aims to be the first place in the US to offer population-based primary care to all Scituate residents, and aims to be the healthiest place in the US as a result, a community of people who are healthy together.

Michael Fine, MD