Abstract

High-performing and equitable healthcare systems are influenced by the strength of primary healthcare (PHC), which means that there should be special attention on this sector because we are changing how we monitor and improve overall care. Comprehensive data are the foundation for actionable information and are urgently needed in PHC because of the heterogeneity in both the demographics and the healthcare needs of the populations served. An ideal information system would combine multiple data sources such as electronic medical records (EMRs), administrative data and patient-reported information, drawing on the strengths of each to develop a comprehensive view of PHC. The purpose of this commentary is to draw attention to data gaps and offer suggestions about where and how this information could be obtained. Linked patient experience, EMRs and administrative data could be used in a learning health system to support decisions at the practice level and the jurisdictional level, where resources (financial and human) can be deployed to improve the quality of care, particularly when care is needed across sectors. The information gained from the analysis of these data are of high value for clinician/practice quality improvement efforts and for regional and jurisdictional health system planning and resource allocation.