• HHS Program Offers Free Practice Transformation Support

    Many of you, like me, may cringe at the sheer volume of acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms that exists in health care policy these days. There is MACRA, MIPS, APMs, MU, QRUR, CPT, and ICD-10 -- just to name some of the more common examples. Well, let me introduce you to a new term that you should know -- PTN, which stands for the Practice Transformation Networks. If you are an independent solo or small-group practice, you should get to know this program soon.  

    On Oct. 23, 2014, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell stood before the nation’s family physicians during her FMX keynote address and announced that HHS was launching an $840 million effort to assist physicians in transforming their practices and delivery systems. During her speech, Burwell promised family physicians in attendance that HHS was launching the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPI), a program designed to assist physicians in their individual journeys towards practice transformation.  

    "We want to support you in innovation," she said.

    One year later, on Sept. 29, 2015, Burwell announced $685 million in TCPI awards to national and regional health care networks to carry out the transformation project she had announced at FMX. The TCPI program aims to assist more than 140,000 physicians and other health care providers in transforming their practices in an effort to improve the quality of care provided, increase patients' access to information, and reduce the total cost of care.  

    HHS is quick to point out that the TCPI program is "one of the largest federal investments designed to support doctors and other clinicians in all 50 states through collaborative and peer-based learning networks."

    In total, there are 29 practice transformation networks that cover all 50 states. The TCPI website describes the PTNs as "peer-based learning networks designed to coach, mentor and assist clinicians in developing core competencies specific to practice transformation. This approach allows clinician practices to become actively engaged in the transformation and ensures collaboration among a broad community of practices that creates, promotes, and sustains learning and improvement across the health care system."

    The AAFP has assembled information on each of the 29 PTNs that you can access to determine which may be the most appropriate fit for your practice. You can also access PTN information through the TCPI Health Care Communities. The AAFP strongly supports programs that facilitate peer-to-peer learning and provide family physicians with information and resources that allow them to pursue transformation activities that are best for them and their practices. For this reason, the AAFP strongly supports the TCPI program. We see the approach of utilizing regional resources to assist physicians in the transformation process more effective than national programs aimed at the same goals. The regional approach puts tools and resources closer to your practice, thus increasing the likelihood that you will utilize available resources.   

    Practice transformation and the PTN program are important opportunities for each of you, but especially those of you that are in an independent solo or small group practice(s). I know that there will be some pushback to me suggesting that you pursue alignment with a PTN as a means of securing tools and resources that can assist you with practice transformation. However, I am going to do just that. These resources are available to you in your state or region and are largely free, and I urge each of you to reach out to your local or regional PTN. All family physicians -- with the exception of those of you who are participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, Pioneer ACO Program, Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice, or the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative -- are eligible to receive technical assistance from the TCPI program.

    The AAFP is committed to providing you information on the opportunities PTNs may provide for you and your practice. I encourage you to use the resources we have assembled on our TCPI resource web page. In addition to these resources, a member interest group has been formed and we will be offering additional TCPI learning opportunities at FMX in Orlando, Fla. If you have questions on the TCPI program, please email the AAFP.

    Wonk Hard
    Last week pitcher and catchers reported to spring training and position players will join them this week. In my opinion, the first day of spring training should be a national holiday. It is a day when every player has a chance to make a roster and every team believes they will play in the World Series. Many of you may know what spring training is, but how many of you know its history? Well I am here to help, so here is the short version.

    The first known spring training was held in 1886 when the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs) traveled to Hot Springs, Ark., to prepare for the upcoming season.  Legend has it that the White Stockings had a good season following their spring in Arkansas, so a tradition was born. Hot Springs remained the center of the spring training universe until the late 1920s when many teams began establishing spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona.

    Although spring training has departed its original Arkansas home, Hot Springs has an undeniable impact on the history of baseball. In fact, more than 130 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame participated in spring training at facilities in Hot Springs. The history of Hot Springs spring training was captured in a 2015 documentary called The First Boys of Spring. This documentary is a great way to spend a cold winter day -- enjoy.


    Stephanie Quinn, AAFP Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Practice Advancement and Policy.  Read author bio »


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