Some might liken becoming a patient in the American health care system to embarking on a journey on the Los Angeles freeways. LA freeways, if you have had the occasion to drive them, are a labyrinth network of intersecting and parallel roads built over time with no clear design, no center, and no ultimate destination, forcing the driver to engage in fits and starts of smooth riding or traffic jams with no clear rationale and no ultimate guidance.
We have similarly burdened the American patient population with maneuvering through a multi-layered, often incomprehensible, Kalfkan maze of disconnected health care pathways and roadblocks.
Recognizing this discoordination, in 2002, ProHealth Physicians, the largest primary care medical group in the state, founded the Connecticut Center of Primary Care in order to bring to light and hopefully to improve this system. The solution inherent in CCPC’s creation was rooted in the concept that primary care physicians, practicing preventive rather than reactive medicine, dealing with both individual patients and patient populations in aggregate, were the natural vehicles on which to help navigate the care of our patients.
Over the five subsequent years, while we have endured some of the trials of a start-up, non-profit foundation, we have kept our focus and our activities geared toward three goals: the improvement of primary care practice through education and systems research, the translation of those improvements into routine practice, and the dissemination of those improvements into the health care system as a whole.
Much of what we have been endeavoring over those years can be summed up in the burgeoning concept of a MEDICAL HOME—a construct that is gaining increasing traction both in the medical community and in public policy. That “Home” may be envisioned as a combination traffic officer—whose purpose is to direct patients down the appropriate pathway, a tourist information center—in which all of a patient’s medical information resides, and a highway rest stop—where a patient knows he can comfortably turn when lost or confused.
Our efforts over the next five years will be directed toward making that concept of a MEDICAL HOME—a guide for our travel weary patients—a reality.
The Connecticut Center for Primary Care (CCPC) was founded in 2002 by ProHealth Physicians as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Working with primary care providers around the state, CCPC studies models of care, including care coordination, patient safety and quality improvement initiatives, performs disease-specific outcomes studies, and sponsors educational seminars on a variety of health care issues. With access to both primary care providers and their patient populations, CCPC has collaborated with researchers at University of Connecticut, Indiana University, Oregon Health and Science University, University of Oklahoma, Yale University, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and the University of Massachusetts, to study topics such as children’s health, senior health, chronic diseases, and practice improvement.
To accomplish its goals, CCPC is governed by a 14-member Board of Directors. The Board of Directors for CCPC includes representatives from physician practices, businesses, and health plans. The Board guides the energies of the small staff team by determining program priorities, developing fundraising strategies and building community relationships. Staff members have been trained in health administration, chronic disease epidemiology, pharmacology, and health systems management.
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CCPC initiatives are funded through grants, program sponsors, and public contributions. Recent sponsors of CCPC research have included the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the University of Connecticut, the Donaghue Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and several pharmaceutical companies.
For six years, CCPC hosted an Annual Golf Tournament to support specific projects including our “Healthy Weight for Children” initiative, the CME course on Health Promotion and Weight loss, as well as the first Primary Care Summit. Since 2008, CCPC has focused it fundraising efforts to help support the Primary Care Summit, an educational and action-oriented forum to investigate and develop consensus around the role of primary care in health reform.
The work of CCPC is funded through grants, program sponsors, and public contributions. Recent sponsors of CCPC research have included the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the University of Connecticut, the Donaghue Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and several pharmaceutical companies. For the past six years, proceeds from an annual charity golf tournament have also helped to support specific CCPC projects, including our “Healthy Weight for Children” initiative.
The Primary Care Coalition of Connecticut is a group of health care professionals from across Connecticut who have united to help build and promote a more effective system of primary health care for our state. We believe that primary care must play a central role in a redesigned health care system that meets the needs of the people of Connecticut. We come from diverse backgrounds, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, public health workers, community health centers, government health programs, and private medical practices.
Today, health care reform challenges us at the state and national level. As we debate the outline and next steps in this reform effort, we believe that these central principles are critical to success:
- Everyone should have access to affordable, high quality health care.
- Primary care must play a central role in an effective and affordable health care system.
- Access to primary health care is essential in building a system that not only treats disease, but prevents illness and enhances our quality of life.
- Primary care can significantly reduce the cost of care through prevention, early detection, optimal intervention, and efficient coordination of care.
- Every person should have a primary care clinician to provide basic, coordinated care, as in the patient-centered medical home.
Our current health care system is expensive, fragmented, and lacks universal access, while producing inconsistent outcomes. Much work will be needed from all stakeholders to move to a better system that includes everyone. Changes in workforce policy, financial incentives, and investment priorities will be essential to achieving this goal. To support this process of change, The Primary Care Coalition of Connecticut serves as an advocate to the public, as a resource to policy makers in the legislature and payer community, as a clearing house for ideas, and as a focal point for activity to improve our existing primary care base. The members of the Coalition are committed to this purpose and seek others to join us in our effort and collaborate to improve the health of the people of our state
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