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MedTech Boston interviewed 4th-year medical student at the University of Minnesota, Peter Meyers about being this year's Primary Care Progress Clinical Innovation Fellow.

Peter Meyers says, "I want to point out that we don’t actually have a real healthcare “system” in our country. We have a unique patchwork of delivery systems that interact with each other, some better than others. More specifically, we have a private health insurance system, a public health insurance system (Medicare, Medicaid), single-payer systems (Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Services), and now a series of insurance marketplaces that offer a combo of several types of plans. The reason I bring this up is because patients rarely stay in one of these delivery systems their entire life (and often switch many times throughout their life). This ever-shifting landscape requires extensive communication and coordination among healthcare professionals to properly manage a patient’s health. And who’s doing a majority of that communication and coordination? Primary care providers! (And I mean MDs, PharmDs, NPs, PAs, RNs, etc.)

So primary care is the bedrock of this healthcare “system.” It’s the super glue that’s holding our rickety boat together. Several international studies have found a correlation between the degree of investment in primary care with improved outcomes and lower costs, and that’s amazing. Right now, millions of Americans don’t have adequate access to a primary care physician. The Affordable Care Act offers positive changes in primary care funding, improving access to providers, and incentives for innovation (particularly in efficiency of care delivery), but it also leaves much of our healthcare “system” in place. So, at least in the short term, it appears that we’re stuck with our patchwork system. In order to optimize the experience of our patients within this broken system, strengthening primary care must be a top priority."

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