Panel of primary-care providers at Health Journalism 2013 #ahcj13

A look at some of the issues, sessions and ideas to keep in mind for those planning to attend Health Journalism 2013, the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

If you’re looking for a thrilling health care story, the local primary care practice is probably not the first place you turn. Primary care is tough to write about, tough to illustrate: the day-to-day interactions in the exam room pale before the cool stuff like robot-assisted surgery or brain-mapping.

Yet there are few more vital – or rapidly changing – sectors in health care. Want to better manage chronic illness? Prevent hospital re-admissions? Promote electronic health records? The primary care provider has got to be at the center of any such efforts.

And what will happen when millions of people who obtain insurance under Obamacare start to look for primary-care doctors, already in short supply?

For a better grasp of these issues – and an infusion of enthusiasm – come to “The Future of Primary Care: Who Will Take Care of You?” at Health Journalism 2013. The panel, at 4:40 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, will feature four primary-care providers working on innovations that may surprise you.

Learn how one practice became a 365-day-a-year operation, based on teamwork, driven by data. Hear about a practice where providers don’t try to cram in 30 patients a day, but take as much time as they need with each. Find out about a trainee-led movement in medical schools around the country to promote primary care, change the way it’s taught, and encourage more doctors into the primary care workforce. Hear about what new skills primary care providers are learning to function in a changing environment.

You can expect to walk away with an armload of story ideas, and a new appreciation of the potential role for primary care in redesigning the health care system as a whole.

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