"In its most highly developed form, primary care is the point of entry into the health services system and the locus of responsibility for organizing care for patients and populations over time. There is a universally held belief that the substance of primary care is essentially simple. Nothing could be further from the truth."
—Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH
Professor Barbara Starfield (1932-2011), a physician and health services researcher, was university distinguished professor and professor of health policy and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. She is internationally known for her work in primary care, and her books are widely recognized as the seminal works in the field. She was instrumental in leading projects to develop important methodological tools, including the Primary Care Assessment Tool (PCAT), the CHIP tools (to assess adolescent and child health status), and the Johns Hopkins Adjusted Clinical Groups (ACGs) for assessment of diagnosed morbidity burdens reflecting degrees of co-morbidity. She was the co-founder and first president of the International Society for Equity in Health, a scientific organization devoted to dissemination of knowledge about the determinants of inequity in health and ways to eliminate them. Her work focused on quality of care, health status assessment, primary care evaluation, and equity in health. She was a member of the Institute of Medicine, serving on its governing council. She was a member of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and many other government and professional committees and groups.
Over an illustrious research career, Dr. Barbara Starfield revealed that countries and areas with health systems that are primary care oriented have better population health outcomes, higher quality care, greater health equity, and lower costs. She passed away in 2011, in a nation that had long lost such a primary care orientation, yet her prolific work imagined a solution to its newly stated Triple Aim for improving its Health Care system – pursuit of improved quality and population health and lower costs.
In an effort not only to honor but to advance Dr. Starfield’s legacy, several family medicine organizations created the Starfield Summit. The Summit is envisioned as an ongoing series of meetings providing a unique opportunity for conversation among a diverse group of leaders in primary care research and policy, young and old, intended to galvanize its participants, generate important discussion for public consumption, and enable research and policy agenda-setting in support of primary care function as an essential catalyst in health system reform. It will embrace the principles of Implementation Science, which seeks to promote the integration of research into policy and practice.