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Health policies and data

Primary Care

 

Strengthening primary care, and getting greater value out of this sector, is a priority for all OECD health systems. 

Primary care is defined as the first level of contact for the population with the health care system, bringing health care as close as possible to where people live and work. It addresses the main health problems in the community, providing preventive, curative and rehabilitative services. Primary care goes beyond services provided by primary care physicians to encompass other health professionals such as nurses, pharmacists, auxiliaries, and community health workers.

Primary care as the first point of care, where primary care providers deliver people-centred care, has the potential to respond to major health challenges and to promote health for all.

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BACKGROUND MATERIAL

The OECD Health Division has an ongoing programme of work to support countries in strengthening primary care systems that can meet the needs of their populations now and in the future.

The upcoming report on the future of primary care discusses how primary care needs to evolve to meet the challenges that OECD health care systems – and societies more broadly – are facing, and identifying what high performing primary care will look like ten or twenty years from now. The report will in particular identify which countries appear to be at the leading edge of practice and share example of interesting innovations on how primary care systems can contribute to population health and society goals. Four major themes that dominate many policy agendas will be explored:

  • how does primary care improve and maintain the health of populations,
  • how does primary care foster patients empowerment,
  • how does primary care support vulnerable people and reduce inequalities
  • and how does primary care make health systems more sustainable and efficient

 

PRIMARY CARE SPENDING

Spending on primary care services, defined as a set of basic care services provided outside of the hospital sector, accounted for an average of 14% of all health care spending across OECD countries in 2016. The share of spending on primary care services was highest in Australia and Poland (both 18%), followed by Spain and Estonia (both 17%). The Slovak Republic and Switzerland, on the other hand, only dedicated around 10% of their total health expenditure on primary care services. 


Spending on primary care services as share of total health spending among 22 OECD countries, 2016

Spending-on-primary-care-services-as-share-of-total-health-spending

Source: OECD Health Statistics 2018.
Access the data behind the graph.
 

The Patient-Reported Indicators Survey (PaRIS) initiative

Health systems know very little about whether the health care delivered seeks to improve people’s well-being and their ability to play an active role in society. It is only when we measure outcomes reported by patients themselves – such as quality of life – that important differences in the outcomes of care emerge.

The Patient-Reported Indicators Survey (PaRIS) initiative addresses these critical information gaps and aims to develop international benchmarks of health system performance as reported by patients themselves, and includes a focus on collecting the experiences and outcomes of users of mental health care services. In areas where patient-reported indicators already exist, the OECD supports countries to accelerate the adoption and reporting of validated, standardised, internationally-comparable patient-reported indicators. A working group on patient-reported indicators for mental health care is one of three international working groups that started in 2018, to discuss and coordinate instruments, definitions and data collection strategies across countries.

In addition, a new set of internationally comparable measures will be developed to help policy makers assess to what extent their policies are on track to make health systems more people-centred, under the OECD Patient-Reported Indicators Survey (PaRIS) initiative. This new international survey focuses on patients with one or more chronic conditions, including mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, who are living in the community and who are largely treated in primary care or other ambulatory care settings.

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FURTHER READING

 

CONTACT US

For more information, please contact Ms Caroline Berchet: caroline.berchet@oecd.org

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