Primary health care in the driver’s seat? Organizational reform in European primary care, WHO/Europe 2006



This study serves as a status report on the process of organizational change of primary care. Drawing on a broad range of information and perspectives, it charts primary care’s progress to date in achieving what are important health policy objectives for all of Europe’s health care systems. This progress is particularly notable in the recent rapid proliferation of innovative mechanisms such as care networks for the chronically ill and the elderly, and continuing experimentation with new funding instruments to support and extend these networks.

The assessment provided in this volume closely follows the view of many national policy-makers that Europe is in a period of extensive innovation in primary care. This intellectual and organizational ferment, if sustained, can help close the gap between the expectations of health policy-makers about the major role that primary care should play, on the one hand, and the day-to-day performance of real health systems, on the other hand.

Despite the undeniable reality that primary care has come a long way from where it began in the 1970s, there remains a great deal of work to be done if it is to achieve its full promise. In outlining the extent of the overall progress that primary care has accomplished to date, the reform innovations currently underway, and the complex issues yet to be resolved, this volume provides both policy-makers and scholars with a valuable perspective on this very important effort.