Six essential elements of high-quality primary care

| June 19, 2023

Learn more about the elements that can be combined to provide the best possible medical care to patients

Despite the fact that the most recent estimates find that over 35% of all health care visits are to primary care physicians, primary care spending across commercial payers was only 4.67% of total national commercial healthcare spending in 2019. [1,2] 

The aforementioned data was pulled before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which only further strained the healthcare industry as a whole, including the practice of primary care. Primary care is facing a massive provider shortage that’s estimated to intensify to a shortage of 21,000 to 55,000 primary care physicians by 2033. [3]

Amid the immense value it offers, popularity amongst patients, and challenges it’s facing, it’s essential to analyze the ways in which primary care can provide the highest quality care to patients across the country. 

Join us to explore the essential elements of high-quality primary care for patients to look out for in a medical provider, and what providers should strive to offer to their patients. 

#1: Collaborative care model

When working to provide the best possible care to patients, primary care clinics must operate within a collaborative or team-based care model.

Team-based care requires the doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, medical assistants, and other medical team members within the practice to work closely with one another by actively listening and curating a care plan that’s focused on providing the best outcomes for patients. 

If your primary care team is siloed or hesitant to communicate openly with one another, your patients will ultimately suffer because they won’t be receiving the highest-quality care that they could if everyone on their care team collaborated for the betterment of their health. 

#2: Care beyond the standard office visit

With the most recent data finding that patients wait an average of 18 minutes to see their doctor and their visit only lasts about 17 minutes, most people are not receiving the high-quality care that they need to get and stay healthy. [4,5]

Patients need to spend enough time with their primary care physicians (PCPs) to share their medical history and health goals to get the care they deserve. In addition to thorough office visits, high-quality primary care practices offer their patients ongoing monitoring and guidance from care teams. 

At our advanced primary care clinics across the country, WeCare tlc patients have a 40 minute consultation with their doctor for their first visits and our patients only have a three minute wait time on average. Our patients are also given access to our certified integrative nurse coaches who work to support and guide them in making sustainable changes to improve their health outside of regular in-office visits.

Learn more:
Top five benefits of working with a nurse health coach

#3: Careful selection of trusted specialists for referrals

Historical data states that over one-third of patients in the U.S. are referred to a specialist every year, and a recent study on referral rates of family medicine practices found that the average monthly referral rate for the clinics in their study was 20.3%. [6,7]

Regardless of the exact amount, specialist referrals are a common practice because primary care physicians can’t cater to every minute need of their patients. If a patient has a specific care need that could be better tended to by an allergist, ophthalmologist, or pulmonologist, for example, a trustworthy family physician will make that referral. 

When it comes to referrals, the key to identifying a high-quality primary care physician is one that works with community-based specialists that are the best in their field. That way, the PCP knows that the referring physician will continue to provide high-quality care to their patients and follow-up with them to coordinate treatment plans.

At our WeCare tlc clinics across the country, our medical teams go above and beyond in providing expert coordination of care for our patients. In addition to making the referral to trusted specialists, our teams help patients schedule referral appointments, and make sure they are aware of the specialist’s recommendations and treatment plan so that they can support patients every step of the way.

#4: Following organizational guidelines

Another telling trait of a high-quality primary care practice is one that follows trustworthy organizational guidelines to standardize their policies and procedures for best patient care.

For example, utilizing industry-trusted guidelines like NCQA (National Committee for Quality) to ensure patient care meets industry standards across the board is a great way to guarantee every member of a clinic’s medical team is providing the same level of care to its patients. 

#5: Commitment to value-based care

When it comes to primary care, physicians who provide value-based care instead of operating within a fee-for-service model are the ones who are providing high-quality services to their patients. 

While a fee-for-service model pays doctors for individual care services provided without considering the efficacy of the care, a value-based care model rewards physicians for the quality of care they provide to patients. The reimbursement for their services is completed based on their effectiveness in promoting well-being and preventing sickness. 

By allowing doctors to focus on their effectiveness with their patients rather than how much money they can make off of every service, they can provide high-quality care.

#6: Integration into the community

The sixth and final key element of high-quality primary care is for the medical teams to be fully integrated into the community and work with local resources to best serve patients.

By aligning their primary health care services with the priorities of the community, their overall effectiveness and levels of patient engagement will be significantly improved. 

At WeCare tlc, our medical teams live in the communities in which they work at our health clinics across the country. Our patients are used to seeing their family physician and nurses at Friday night football games, their local grocery store, and out and about with their children and families. By living in the communities they work, our medical teams are more in tune with the needs of their patients and establish a higher level of trust within their community. 

Related resource:
What you need to know about the five social determinants of health

Our commitment to high-quality primary care

At WeCare tlc, providing high-quality primary care to our clients’ employees and their families at our health centers across the country is of the utmost importance to our team.

We do so by providing our patients with:

  • Greater accessibility
  • Better doctor-patient relationships
  • Referral management
  • Disciplined focus on health improvement, and
  • A more patient-centered experience

Our team is also implementing NCQA (National Committee for Quality Assurance) guidelines throughout our organization. NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving healthcare quality. Their guidelines and performance measures ensure that primary care organizations like us provide high-quality, patient-centered care that meets or exceeds industry standards in various categories such as diabetic care, cardiovascular prevention, and behavioral health.

Learn more about our advanced primary care offerings or get in touch today to see how WeCare tlc can work for you.


1: National Library of Medicine | A New Vision for Primary Care

2: Primary Care Collaborative | Primary Care Spending: High Stakes, Low Investment

3: Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) | The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections From 2018 to 2033

4: Fierce Healthcare | Report outlines the business perils of long patient wait times

5: National Library of Medicine | Time Allocation in Primary Care Office Visits

6: National Library of Medicine | Dropping the Baton: Specialty Referrals in the United States

7: Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine | Referral Rates Vary Widely Between Family Medicine Practices