Inspiring Primary Care Innovation
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Weitzman Symposium with a focus on primary care. It was hosted by Community Health Center, Inc., and it was held on the beautiful Wesleyan University Campus. The focus was on inspiring primary care innovation. And inspire me it did.
Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) in Connecticut has a longstanding tradition of implementing new and innovative solutions for its patient population, which is mostly comprised of underinsured, diverse and low-income patients with limited access to specialized care. I will be honest that one reason I did not enter community health directly out of school was the thought that I would be utterly frustrated by the inability to provide the care I felt a patient needed, due to dictation of state insurance. I learned on this day that this is not how it needs to be and that CHC was working hard at changing that thought process.
The day included several wonderful speakers and then a responsive panel from CHC who educated the audience about how they, in their community setting, where implementing the innovative ideas that the speakers had presented.
Thomas Bodenheimer, MD, discussed the pressing issue of the shortage of primary care providers and whether recruiting more providers would make a difference. Instead he encourages centers to "share the care." This means allowing medical assistants and nurses to work at the top of their licenses in order to lower the burden on the providers. Therefore, if providers are not spending most of their time trying to accomplish tasks that others could complete, they could expand their case load. CHC spoke in return on how it has in place standing orders for nurses and medical assistants to be able to manage such things as hypertension medication and diabetic foot checks.
We heard from Aaron Smith, cofounder of the Young Invincibles, who took it upon himself to educate and empower the youth of the country to take control of their healthcare options and who was on the forefront of the move to ensure that young adults are covered under parental health insurance until age 26. Sandra Sarkar, chief of staff at Health Leads, gave an invigorating speech about how her company was taking steps in bridging the socioeconomic barriers to healthcare.
The day taught me to not be afraid of challenges, but instead be a partner in finding innovative solutions.
As Ghandi has said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." For more information on CHC, visit: http://chc1.com