Restoring the joy in primary care.

Heart of Virginia Healthcare

by: Anton Kuzel, MD

Last week, the Agency for Health Research and Quality announced the award of seven EvidenceNow: Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care grants to state-level cooperatives aimed at improving the quality of care provided by small to medium practices (ten or fewer clinicians at a given site).  I am proud to say that Virginia is one of the seven!  

Virginia’s winning proposal, Heart of Virginia Healthcare, is a statewide consortium that includes Virginia Commonwealth University, Eastern Virginia Medical School, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech Carillion School of Medicine, Community Health Solutions, George Mason University, the Virginia Center for Health Innovation, and the Virginia Health Quality Center. Over the next three years, these partners will help practices become more efficient, more patient centered, and help physicians return to spending most of their time caring for patients.

Primary care physicians have developed simple strategies to not only improve care for their patients, but also to restore the joy to practice. 

  1. All relevant information about indicated preventive services and chronic disease management treatment is readily available at the time of patient visit.
  2. Some form of team care that frees up physicians to do physician level work – takes away time consuming tasks and returns as much as two hours of time per day to physicians.
  3. Because these models save so much physician time and tend to improve documentation, coding, and reimbursement, they can pay for themselves even in a fee-for-service environment.
  4. The primary care physicians who created these models were typically experiencing burnout, and the new strategies have allowed them to enjoy their work again.

Practices that enroll in Heart of Virginia Healthcare will receive personalized coaching and consultation in order to bring the improvements to their practice.   They will form a learning community that will help us quickly identify and solve problems and spread best practices.  Participation will also make physicians eligible for Part IV MOC credit from the ABFM or the ABIM.

Additional but optional services include:

  • Learning how to implement open access scheduling in your practice, which eliminates need for triage, enhances continuity, improves patient satisfaction, and usually adds capacity.
  • Strategies to improve team function throughout the entire practice.

We believe that these improved models of care will show significant improvements in quality measures, and will move these practices toward patient centered medical home status that can result in improved reimbursement from CMS and potentially other commercial payers.

Applications and practice selection will be on a rolling basis June 19 – October 1, 2015. I encourage my colleagues in primary care to apply to be part of this much needed initiative.  Learn more about Heart of Virginia Healthcare.

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