Health care transformation

Thursday, January 01, 2015 11:22 AM
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New campaign to showcase primary care “done right”

by Kate Alfano, CMS contributing writer

Health Is Primary

A new campaign, “Health is Primary,” created by a coalition of national family medicine organizations, aims to rally patients, employers, policymakers and other stakeholders across the country to recognize and support the value of primary care in delivering on the Triple Aim of better health, better care and lower costs.

Health Is Primary will showcase primary care “done right” in Colorado, said Richard Budensiek, DO, FAAFP, of Greeley, past president of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians. “It dovetails with the goals of the Colorado Primary Care Collaborative in informing the public and businesses of the importance of primary care in achieving the Triple Aim.”

“Colorado is unique in having the multi-payer Primary Care Collaborative and Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative to help showcase the PCMH,” he continued. “Having an organization like HealthTeamWorks work with practices to transform has been a game-changer. Now with the SIM [State Innovation Model] grant and the TCIP, Colorado primary care is positioned for the future. The tipping point for care transformation of all primary care in Colorado is at the threshold.”

Health Is Primary is the communications vehicle for Family Medicine for America’s Health (FMAH), a coalition of eight national family medicine organizations that will implement a five-year strategic plan that aims to transform family medicine to meet the needs of a growing population of patients with increasing complexity of health issues. FMAH’s strategy focuses on expanding access to the patient-centered medical home, ensuring a strong primary care workforce and shifting from fee-for-service to comprehensive primary care payment.

“What we’re looking to do is to have patients and other stakeholders understand the foundational role of primary care and create a movement that moves our health care system to have that strong primary care foundation,” said Glen Stream, MD, MBI, former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and FMAH board chair. “We are just absolutely convinced that the Triple Aim cannot be accomplished without the strong primary care foundation that we’re advocating for.”

The FMAH board guides the strategic effort. It comprises one representative from each partner organization plus a family physician in full-time practice, new physician leader, patient advocate and AAFP state chapter executive. Driving the work of FMAH are six tactic teams focused on payment, practice management, workforce, education, technology and engagement, with broad representation from the primary care community. The core members of FMAH’s tactic teams met for the first time in December in Tampa, Fla., to develop a five-year work plan for their strategy focus. Moving forward, each team will engage a broader group of up to 60 volunteers to help with various aspects of their plan.

Jen Brull, MD, FMAH board member representing practicing physicians, has been asked by colleagues what this campaign will “do” to them. She said she hopes it won’t do anything to them but rather that it will do a lot “for” them.

“We want people to practice in a way that brings them joy and lets them do things the way they want to do things, and accomplish objectives that are important,” Brull said. “I think the idea is that we’re not looking to massively change or reform the way physicians practice. It’s all about how can we shape technology, legislation, payment and pipeline to make your job easier so you can do a better job of taking care of patients.”

Health Is Primary is designed to connect patients to primary care and impart to them that 90 percent of health needs can be met in the primary care medical home. The campaign will employ national advertising, workplace programs and stakeholder outreach to raise awareness, and will travel to five cities in 2015 to engage local stakeholders and showcase community-level interventions that are working to enhance and expand primary care and improve health. One stop will be in Denver, coinciding with the AAFP’s annual meeting, Sept. 29 - Oct. 3, 2015.

The campaign will reach out to employers, disease groups and health advocates to activate patients around major health issues to demonstrate how primary care can support them in preventing disease and promoting health. Health Is Primary launches its first quarterly consumer campaign in January, with a focus on nutrition and fitness, with chronic disease management, immunization and smoking cessation following later in 2015.

Also in January, the campaign will host a panel discussion at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to share the family medicine perspective on consumer health technology, the start of an effort to engage with the technology community to help drive innovation and technologies that foster the connection between physicians and patients and improve patient care and patient health.

Stream said the biggest challenge to the campaign is the sheer size of the audience and the broad scope of the message. “We recognize that we can’t make this type of a change in the health care system on our own and are very much looking for partners to collaborate around areas of shared interests.”

He encouraged practicing physicians, both in family medicine and other specialties, to share their stories of successful collaboration between colleagues, patients, public health, employers, health plans, schools and others by emailing them to “By highlighting those successes we think we can demonstrate best practices that then could be modeled for other communities that are struggling with similar problems.”

“What we need the other stakeholders to understand – people in government, employers, health plans – is that our current system is broken in how it pays for primary care,” Stream said. “We’ll be engaging those groups around how to retool our health care system to be based on a stronger primary care foundation; changing the payment model is a linchpin piece of that project.”

Budensiek agreed. “When payment goes from a fee-for-service to value and global reimbursement, specialists will be incentivized to work hand-in-hand with primary care as team members doing the best for our patients.”

The campaign sends out regular communications. Interested physicians can sign up to receive updates or view more information at and

Posted in: Colorado Medicine | Practice Evolution | Practice Redesign | Medical Neighborhood/PCMH


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