High-need, high-cost (HNHC) patients, who typically have complex and long-term care demands, contribute considerably to the high work pressure of primary care professionals (PCPs). To improve patient as well as provider experiences, it is crucial to take into account the PCPs’ perspective in designing health care strategies for HNHC patients. Therefore, this study aimed to create insight into PCPs’ experienced barriers and possible solutions with regards to person-centred, efficient care delivery to HNHC patients.
We conducted a qualitative study using focus group interviews with PCPs at a Dutch primary care group. A semi-structured interview guide was developed for the interviews. Qualitative content analysis was employed deductively by means of a categorisation matrix. The matrix was based on the components retrieved from the SELFIE framework for integrated care for multi-morbidity.
Forty-two PCPs participated in five focus group interviews. Discussed barriers and solutions were related to the core of the SELFIE framework (i.e. the individual and environment), and particularly four of the six health system components in the framework: service delivery, leadership & governance, workforce, and technologies & medical products. Many discussed barriers revolved around the complex biopsychosocial needs of HNHC patients: PCPs reported a lack of time (service delivery), insufficiently skilled PCPs (workforce), and inefficient patient information retrieval and sharing (technologies & medical products) as barriers to adequately meet the biopsychosocial needs of HNHC patients.
This qualitative study suggests that primary care is currently insufficiently equipped to accommodate the complex biopsychosocial needs of HNHC patients. Therefore, it is firstly important to strengthen primary care internally, taking into account the experienced lack of time, the insufficient number of equipped PCPs and lack of inter-professional information retrieval and sharing. Secondly, PCPs should be supported in cooperating and communicating more efficiently with health services outside primary care to adequately deliver person-centred, efficient care. As a prerequisite, it is crucial to direct policy efforts at the design of a strong system of social and community services. In terms of future research, it is important to assess the feasibility and effects of re-designing primary care based on the provided recommendations.

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