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A Blueprint for Improving Access to Primary Care for Adults with Physical Disabilities

A Blueprint for Improving Access to Primary Care for Adults with Physical Disabilities
  • By: Independence Care System
  • Date: December 2016
  • Priority Area: Empowering Health Care Consumers, Advancing Primary Care
  • Type: Resources
  • Document: Download

Overview

This NYSHealth-funded report, A Blueprint for Improving Access to Primary Care for Adults with Physical Disabilities, was created by the Independence Care System (ICS) as a guide for primary care providers to expand access to care for adults with disabilities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 approximately one in five adults in the United States—or more than 53 million people—were living with a disability. People with physical disabilities are often medically underserved and lack access to adequate primary care. Evidence shows that a high proportion of primary care providers lack the understanding and competency to care for patients with physical disabilities, resulting in barriers to high-quality care. Such obstacles can lead to people with physical disabilities missing routine preventive screenings and physical exams, resulting in high rates of hospitalizations, delayed diagnosis, improper treatment, or premature death. To address this gap in health care for people with physical disabilities, NYSHealth awarded a grant to Independence Care System (ICS) to design and implement a plan to help primary care providers meet the needs of patients with physical disabilities.

This blueprint includes a detailed implementation plan for a new approach to delivering primary care to this population—one where patients can access the full range of primary care services in an environment that is both physically accessible and culturally competent. It aims to help raise attention to the specific medical needs of this population and serve as a tool to advocate for the right payment models and incentives that will sustain improved access and quality of care for people with physical disabilities.

The blueprint answers questions like: What are the most important things to do to make a facility accessible? To provide disability sensitivity training? To adapt intake procedures to the needs of people with physical disabilities? To provide disability-competent clinical care?

Primary care and preventive screenings are crucial first steps in reducing avoidable hospitalizations, readmissions, and emergency room visits. With this blueprint, any medical facility across New York State can make changes that will enable it to provide competent, high-quality primary care to people with physical disabilities. This step-by-step guide provides practicable suggestions for achieving change and is replicable across health care settings.