Sailing the 7C's: Starfield Revisited as a Foundation of Family Medicine Residency Redesign

Fam Med. 2021 May 6. doi: 10.22454/FamMed.2021.383659. Online ahead of print.


Amidst a pandemic that has acutely highlighted longstanding failings of the US health care system and the graduate medical education (GME) enterprise that serves it, educators prepare to embark on another revision of the program requirements for family medicine GME. We propose in this article a conceptual framework to guide this endeavor, built on a foundation of the core functions that Barbara Starfield suggested might explain primary care's salutary effects. We first revisit these "4C's"-first Contact, Continuity, Comprehensiveness, and Coordination-and how they might inform design thinking in primary care GME guideline revision. We also propose the addition of Community engagement, patient-Centeredness, and Complexity. Training residents to deliver on these "7C's," functions critical to the delivery of high-performing primary care, is essential if family medicine residency graduates are to serve the clearly articulated, but unrealized, quadruple aim for US health care: improved patient experience and population health at lower costs while preserving clinician well-being. Finally, we highlight and illustrate examples of four critical enablers of these 7C core functions of primary care that must be accommodated in training guidelines and reform, suggesting a need for resident competencies in Team-based, Tool- and Technology-enabled, Tailored ("4T's") care of patients and populations.