Framework for advancing improvement in primary care

Healthc Pap. 2012;12(2):8-21. doi: 10.12927/hcpap.2012.22978.


A consistent feature of effective healthcare delivery systems is a strong and well-integrated primary care sector. This paper presents a framework that describes the key elements of high-performing primary care and the supports required to attain it. The framework was developed by the Quality Improvement and Innovation Partnership in Ontario (now part of Health Quality Ontario) to guide the process of primary care transformation. The first section of this paper presents and describes the framework, the second proposes implementation strategies and the third identifies system-level structures and policies needed to support primary care transformation. The framework has three components: (1) the major constituencies that primary care serves – patients, families and their local communities; (2) the desired outcomes of primary care (better health, better care, better value); and (3) the attributes that will enable primary care organizations to attain these outcomes. These attributes are a population focus, patient engagement, partnerships with health and community services, innovation, performance measurement and quality improvement and team-based care.Proposed transformation strategies include building system capacity and capability, ensuring access to resources, providing support from coaches and employing effective spread and sustainability strategies. Broader system-level structures and policies necessary to support and sustain a high-performing and continually improving primary care sector include clear goals; a comprehensive approach to performance measurement; systematic evaluation of innovation; funding incentives aligned with quality outcomes; a system of local primary care organizations; support for inter-professional teams; funding for research to inform primary care policy, management and practice; patient enrolment with primary care providers; and mechanisms to support coordination and integration.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration
  • Health Plan Implementation / organization & administration
  • Health Planning / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational
  • Ontario
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*