Category Archives: Primary care
The federal government announced on July 7 it had awarded more than $83 million to expand access to care by training hundreds of new primary care providers.
The money will be used to support primary care residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, geriatrics, and general dentistry at 60 health centers across the country. The expanded residency programs will help train more than 550 residents in coming academic year—about 200 more than were trained in the previous academic year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The funds will also be used to boost the number of states with teaching health centers from 21 to 24.
“This program not only provides training to primary care medical and dental residents, but also galvanizes communities,” said Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN, head of the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of HHS. “It brings hospitals, academic centers, health centers, and community organizations together to provide top-notch medical education and services in areas of the country that need them most.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) LEAP National Program is working to create a culture of health by discovering, documenting, and sharing innovations in the primary care workforce. To advance this goal, the program is holding a series of six webinars that highlight best practices. The first webinar addressed the responsibility of health delivery organizations to strengthen community health and the ways primary care providers can address social determinants of health. It featured leaders from four primary care sites around the country that the LEAP program has deemed exemplars.
Bringing Change to a Low-Income Community in Philadelphia
Patricia Gerrity, PhD, RN, associate dean for community programs at Drexel University and director of 11th Street Family Health Services at Drexel University, discussed the origins and work of her clinic, which is a partnership with the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) that began in 1996. In response to a letter between the University and the PHA, Gerrity worked to gain mutual trust with the aim of improving the residents’ health status.
Getting started wasn’t easy, Gerrity noted. To achieve some wins, she assigned a public health nursing faculty member from Drexel to each public housing development. The nurse faculty members asked residents about pressing problems—and then became partners in solving them. For instance, residents said car accidents were an issue, so stop signs were put up. Residents wanted to learn CPR, so training was offered. Residents expressed concerns about dog bites, so they worked with Animal Control to remove stray dogs. “We had to have some short term wins to gain trust,” Gerrity said.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s LEAP National Program is working to create a culture of health by discovering, documenting, and sharing innovations in the primary care workforce. Across the country, innovative practices have found ways to make care more efficient and effective for both patients and providers, which can lead to improved health outcomes and health savings. The LEAP project has identified and visited practices based in large health systems and rural community clinics ranging from Maine to California, and has brought the sites together in person and via webinars to discuss their innovations.
LEAP stands for The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices. Over the past six months, the 31 “exemplar sites” have been actively engaged in discussing their workforce best practices. The goal is to allow others across the country to learn from and replicate these innovations, ultimately via a dissemination website.
Linnea Windel, MSN, RN, president and CEO of VNA Health Care in Aurora, Ill., received the Illinois Primary Health Care Association’s Danny K. Davis Award last fall for her leadership of and service to the community health center movement. She is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellows program (2008-2011).
Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on your award! What does this mean for you and for your organization’s work?
Linnea Windel: The community health center movement (and the work that we do) reaches thousands of uninsured and underinsured people who, in most cases, wouldn’t have access to primary health care services otherwise. The award highlights the purpose of our work and the work of many.
HCB: The award is named for Danny K. Davis, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a champion of the community health center movement. How is VNA Health Care carrying out his mission?
Windel: When we became a federally qualified health center (FQHC) 12 years ago, we were serving 6,000 patients; this year we are on track to serve 60,000 patients. In the space of 12 years, we’ve expanded our service area and now have nine health centers in suburban Chicago. We live out the purpose of the community health center movement and the purpose of the award through the provision of care in communities with significant need.
Nurses are “the backbone of efforts” to expand New Mexico’s primary care workforce, according to Gov. Susana Martinez, and they help ensure that people living in the state’s rural and underserved communities can get the high quality care they need and deserve. A video from the governor helped open the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Academic Progression in Nursing meeting in Washington, D.C., this week, which brought together nurse leaders from around the country. In her remarks, Governor Martinez explains why New Mexico has implemented a common statewide nursing curriculum, made it easier for nurses in the state to further their education, and placed “a strong emphasis on nurses.”
Have you signed up to receive Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge? The monthly Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) e-newsletter will keep you up to date on the work of the foundation’s nursing programs, and the latest news, research, and trends relating to academic progression, leadership, and other essential nursing issues. These are some of the stories in the January issue:
Patients Slowly Gaining Access to Care Provided by Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
In recent years, several states have taken steps to ease restrictions on advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), indicating that efforts to empower them and improve patient access to care are picking up steam. However, many consumers still lack unfettered access to care provided by APRNs because two-thirds of states do not allow them to practice without physician supervision—and even in states that do, APRNs aren’t always able to practice independently.
Stronger Primary Care System Is Goal of RWJF Scholar
RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow Margaret Flinter, PhD, APRN, has been at the center of three movements: community-oriented primary care, the growth of the community health center movement, and the growth of nurse practitioners as primary care providers. She founded the country’s first formal post-graduate residency training program for new nurse practitioners, and co-directs The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices, a national project supported by RWJF that is working to help health care organizations develop and accelerate innovations.
Arthur Kellermann, MD, MPH, FACEP, an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars and Health Policy Fellows programs, is dean of the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He wrote an article in the November issue of Health Affairs calling for a new class of health care provider—the primary care technician—to improve accessibility to and affordability of primary care.
Human Capital Blog: What is the thrust of your idea?
Arthur Kellermann: We’ve had a decades-long shortage of primary care physicians in this country and, up until now, it has defied solution. One definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. My article suggests a rethinking, and literally a reengineering, of how we deliver primary care in this country. It makes the case for a new class of providers—primary care technicians (PCTs)—who would work remotely, under the online supervision of primary care physicians or nurse practitioners (NPs), to manage stable chronic disease patients, treat minor illnesses and injuries, and provide basic preventive services. These PCTs would make primary care more accessible, more convenient, and more affordable to Americans, wherever they live.
Human Capital News Roundup: Light-based defibrillators, the primary care workforce, how women change men, and more.
Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:
A strong primary care system is essential to improving health care in the United States, and front-line clinicians, staff, and leaders need to re-examine traditional roles and responsibilities, Maryjoan Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, told Medical Home News. Ladden is senior program officer for RWJF’s Human Capital portfolio. To investigate primary care workforce transformation, RWJF funded The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP), Ladden said. Her full interview is available at: http://medicalhomenews.com/ (subscription required.)
Women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) gain weight more rapidly and are more likely to be overweight or obese than other women, according to a study co-authored by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Magdalena Cerda, DrPH. The study, featured in Health Canal, is the first to look at the relationship between PTSD and obesity over time.
New tools such as the Omnibus Risk Estimator, which the American Heart Association recommends doctors use instead of cholesterol tests to determine whether to prescribe statins, are developed with little regulatory authority over their design and use, Jason Karlawish, MD, writes in a New York Times op-ed. Karlawish, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, encourages better oversight and regulations to monitor such tools.
Michael Hochman, MD, MPH, is medical director for Innovation at AltaMed Health Services, a 43-site federally qualified health center in Southern California. He completed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars program at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012. While a Clinical Scholar, Hochman co-led a primary care demonstration that was published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine. He recently published, 50 Studies Every Doctor Should Know.
Primary care in the United States is at a crossroads. As health care becomes increasingly disjointed and costs continue to rise, primary care providers face increasing pressure to take charge of the health system. Indeed, we know that health care systems with more developed primary care infrastructures are more efficient and of higher quality than those with a weaker primary care foundation.
But at the same time, more and more health care professionals are shying away from careers in primary care. Not only is the work challenging (late-night phone calls, numerous tests and studies to follow up on, ever-increasing regulatory requirements), but the pay is lower than in other fields of medicine.
Maryjoan Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
During a recent visit to my adopted home state of Massachusetts, I took a fresh look at a primary care practice I had previously known only from afar. I was part of the team visiting Cambridge Health Alliance–Union Square Family Health, which is one of 30 primary care practices recognized as exemplar models for workforce innovation by The Primary Care Team: Learning From Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP) project. This project, a new initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the MacColl Center at Group Health Research Institute, is studying these 30 practice sites to identify new strategies in workforce development and interprofessional collaboration. The overarching goal of LEAP is to better understand the innovative models that make primary care more efficient, effective, and satisfying to both patients and providers, and ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.
This site visit took me back to my time as a nurse practitioner at Boston Medical Center, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and Boston’s school-based health centers. This is where my passion for primary care began. As we prepare for millions more Americans to enter the health care system in the coming year, we must identify ways to expand access to primary care, improve the quality of care, and control costs. One important way is by exploring how to optimize the varied and expansive skill sets of all members of the primary care team. This idea has been examined in medical and popular media, but there has been little study of the workforce innovations employed by primary care practices to meet the increasing demands for health care.