On Oct. 23 of last year, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell stood before thousands of family physicians gathered in Washington, D.C., for the 2014 AAFP Assembly to announce a new federal grants initiative designed to help physicians transform their practices to enhance care coordination and expand information-sharing.
Fast forward to this year's Family Medicine Experience in Denver, where word came Sept. 29 that the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) had been named one of 39 health care collaborative networks selected to participate in the agency's Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPI).
"Supporting doctors and other health care professionals change the way they work is critical to improving quality and spending our health care dollars more wisely," said Burwell in a press release(www.hhs.gov) announcing HHS' action. "These awards will give patients more of the information they need to make informed decisions about their care and give clinicians access to information and support to improve care coordination and quality outcomes."
Named one of the initiative's 10 Support and Alignment Networks, the ABFM, in partnership with the AAFP, will receive as much as $538,000 to help offer the tools, information and network support clinicians need to improve the quality of care they provide, increase patients' access to information and ensure more judicious use of precious health care dollars.
"The American Academy of Family Physicians is pleased to support the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative," said (then) AAFP President Robert Wergin, M.D., of Milford, Neb., in a joint news release. "Together with the ABFM, we will work to support recruitment for and communication about the important work being done to facilitate practice transformation for large and small practices to strengthen the quality of patient care and spend health care dollars more wisely."
"This is a logical partnership to support the specialty that provides one in five health care visits in the U.S. every year," agreed ABFM vice president of research and policy and grant project director, Robert Phillips Jr., M.D., M.S.P.H. "The ABFM and AAFP have a shared mission to help family physicians improve care and are glad to be part of an effort to bring resources to their practices to help make it happen."
A CMS overview(innovation.cms.gov) of the TCPI describes the initiative, part of a strategy advanced by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to strengthen quality of care and rein in health care spending, as being "designed to help clinicians achieve large-scale health transformation." Its ultimate goal is to support 150,000 clinical practices in their efforts to share, adapt and further develop their comprehensive quality improvement strategies over a four-year period. In all, the agency has committed $685 million to the initiative.
According to a CMS fact sheet(www.cms.gov) that outlines details of the awards, the Support and Alignment Networks will focus on projects such as creating a collaborative for emergency clinicians to address appropriate utilization of tests and procedures and forming collaboratives between psychiatric and primary care clinicians so patients can receive basic mental health care from their primary care health professionals.
The joint ABFM-AAFP network will support between 25,000 and 40,000 clinicians in
- expanding their capacity to achieve quality improvements;
- learning from one another; and
- attaining the triple aim goals of improved care, better health and reduced costs.
Among other elements of the project, the network also will develop a member interest group learning collaborative for family physicians participating in the TCPI, create practice performance coaching guides that the initiative's 29 Practice Transformation Networks can use to facilitate their transformation activities, and give maintenance of certification and CME credit to family physicians in those networks to help them meet the initiative's phases of transformation and associated milestones and clinical and operational results.