Primary Care Functions

Primary care is distinguished by the core functions it provides, including: first contact accessibility, comprehensiveness, people-centeredness, coordination, and continuity. Strong primary care systems are those that consistently and equitably achieve these five functions.


The ability of the health system to provide primary care services to patients when they need them, with acceptable and reasonable wait times and at days and times that are convenient to them.


The practice of following procedures and guidelines in the delivery of PHC services in order to avoid harm to the people for whom care is intended.


Efficiency refers to the ability of a health system to attain its desired objective(s) with the available resources, while minimizing waste and maximizing capacities to deliver care to those who need it.


Effectiveness measures whether health care and services are driven by evidence, adhere to established standards, and achieve their intended result.


People-centeredness means organizing the health system around the comprehensive needs of people rather than individual diseases.

First Contact Accessibility

The capacity of a primary care system to serve as the first point of contact, or a patient's entry point to the health system, for most of a person's health needs.


Coordination of care refers to the system's ability to oversee and manage patient care over time and across levels of care to ensure appropriate follow-up, minimize the risk of error, and prevent complications.


Continuity is the degree to which a patient experiences a series of discrete healthcare events as coherent and consistent with their medical needs and personal context.


The provision of holistic and appropriate care across promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative, chronic and palliative service needs.


The following indicators, drawn from Primary health care measurement framework and indicators: monitoring health systems through a primary health care lens are included in this concept.

No indicators for this sub-domain.
Related Concepts

Delivering high-quality primary health care requires many elements of the health system working effectively together. This mapping explores how different concepts with the framework relate to one another.

Upstream elements are those that are required to develop or improve a particular concept. Absence or poor performance of an upstream element is expected to negatively impact the performance of the concept of focus.

Complementary elements are those where improvements or developments in this area will be mutually beneficial to the concept of focus but not required for improvement.

Primary Care Functions
Improvement Strategies

Each Improvement Strategy is designed to help decision-makers begin to plan and enact reforms within their own context by providing additional resources and evidence on the topic, as well as practical recommendations for action. Learn more about improving quality of primary care functions.

Potential Funding opportunities

Interested in understanding how this topic intersects with investment opportunities from major funding streams? The Global Frameworks Mapping provides a starting point to help identify and make connections between key PHC topics, relevant funding initiatives, and investment cases.

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