Primary care and public health have critical roles in providing for the health and well-being of communities across the nation. Although they each share a common goal, historically they have operated independently of each other. However, new opportunities are emerging that could bring the two sectors together in ways that will yield substantial and lasting improvements in the health of individuals, communities, and populations. Because of this potential, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration asked the IOM to examine the integration of primary care and public health.
The interactions between the two sectors are so varied that it is not possible to prescribe a specific model or template for how integration should look. Instead, the IOM identifies a set of core principles derived from successful integration efforts – including a common goal of improving population health, as well as involving the community in defining and addressing its needs. The time is right for action, and the principles provided in this report can serve as a roadmap to move the nation toward a more efficient health system. The challenges in integrating primary care and public health are great – but so are the opportunities and rewards.