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What is community-oriented primary care (COPC)?

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Community-oriented primary care (COPC) is a process of improving a community’s health by using principles of public health, epidemiology, preventive medicine and primary care that has been shown to have positive health benefits for communities in the United States and worldwide.

In 1999 the American Public Health Association gave the following description of COPC:

“Community-Oriented Primary Care (COPC) is a systematic process for identifying and addressing the health problems of a defined population. It can be implemented with the resources available in most communities. In COPC, a team of health professionals and community members work in partnership over a long period, diagnosing and treating a community in much the same way as does a primary care physician with an individual patient. Primary care practitioners are not required in every project, and they are usually too busy to lead such an effort, but they must be involved.”

Importance of primary care providers

COPC offers the possibility of addressing the environmental and social causes of bad health within a community, with the assistance of a primary care physician.

The steps that are taken within COPC to diagnose and treat communities follows the same foundations that of a primary care physician. Primary care providers are the “quarterback” of a patient’s healthcare experience, they coordinate care with all of the patient’s specialty physicians in order to keep everyone up-to-date the patient’s health, make sure they have the right tests done without duplicates, among many other responsibilities. The main objective of COPC is heavily based around the functions of primary care physicians.

In the transition to value-based physician payment models, community-oriented primary care (COPC) is attracting interest as a care model focused on improving health outcomes on a population level.

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