Family physician practices in two states now have the opportunity to really sink their teeth into quality improvement, or QI, thanks to the Healthy Communities Collaborative, or HCC, a performance improvement CME program developed by the AAFP in collaboration with the Indiana AFP and the Wisconsin AFP. Officially launched in January, the HCC is recruiting a total of 32 family medicine teams -- 16 in each state -- to participate in the 12-month longitudinal curriculum pilot.
Each three-member practice team will include a family physician; a back-office staff member, such as a nurse or medical assistant; and a front-office staff member, such as an office manager or receptionist.
According to Sherry Fernandez, AAFP manager of quality initiatives, the HCC is the latest stage in the evolution of the Academy's QI initiatives that began with the introduction of its Measuring, Evaluating and Translating Research into Care, or METRIC, program in January 2005 and continued with the debut of the Practice Enhancement Forum, or PEF, later that same year.
The HCC incorporates elements from both METRIC, which focuses on the individual FP, and the PEF, which first brought other practice team members into the QI mix. But the HCC takes those teams even further by offering additional support via Web-based learning sessions and supplemental tools and resources, Fernandez said. In that sense, "It's a menu of options, from a bite, to a snack, to a meal," she noted.
"If a physician does METRIC alone, he or she gets one result; if a practice team participates in a PEF, they get an even better result," Fernandez explained. "HCC takes it further by continuing the PEF, which is a two-day workshop," and adding a facilitated practice redesign and improvement learning session and a leadership skills development learning session, she said. Participants also receive QI coach support and can access the HCC online learning community to share their learning experiences.
The program's focus on developing leadership and team skills aims to facilitate a practice's move toward the patient-centered medical home model of care, which improves both health care delivery and patient outcomes, Fernandez said.
The HCC is being funded through a $1 million grant from the GlaxoSmithKline Center for Medical Education. The Indiana and Wisconsin practices selected to participate will be focusing their QI efforts on improving care provided to patients with cardiovascular disease, Fernandez said.
Family physicians are eligible to receive 20 Prescribed credits from the AAFP for completing the METRIC coronary artery disease, or CAD: Improving Patient Care, module that forms part of the HCC experience. In addition, they will fulfill the requirement for Part IV of the American Board of Family Medicine's Maintenance of Certification for Family Physicians program. FPs who complete all core components of the HCC program will be eligible to earn as many as 40 AAFP Prescribed credits.