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Opinion and Commentary from TMA

Learn How To Build Your Community’s Primary Care Foundation

(Public Health) Permanent link

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A strong primary care foundation is associated with better health for people and communities as a whole. Rates of cancer, heart disease, and premature birth are lower when primary care is the cornerstone of a community’s health system. 

Borenstein_mugIn fact, adding 10 primary care physicians per 100,000 population increases life span by 51.5 days per resident, a recent study by researchers from Harvard and Stanford shows. However, Texas ranks 47th out of 50 states in the ratio of primary care physicians per 100,000 population. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are increasing in Texas at alarming rates. 

As the number of Texans with multiple chronic illnesses continues to rise, primary care practices must find new ways to care for their patients effectively. Understanding population health and implementing team-based care models are important cornerstones of practice transformation. Accounting for the influence of social determinants of health in caring for patients has become an increasingly important focus of comprehensive primary care as well.  

Despite the many challenges faced by primary care practices in Texas, many find innovative ways to provide timely, accessible, and person-centered care to their patients and communities. 

The seventh-annual Texas Primary Care Consortium Annual Summit, scheduled for June 20-21 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel, will showcase many of these practices and many of these innovations. 

The summit is designed to increase knowledge of important topics in primary care transformation and to give participants an opportunity to meet, share experiences, and make connections. 

It will feature more than 30 sessions organized into broad categories:

  • Population health;
  • Practice transformation and innovation;
  • Meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities;
  • The business of medicine; and
  • Expanding the clinic beyond its walls. 

The sessions offered include:

  • Patient-centered medical home: Return on investment for patients, practices, and systems;
  • Development of action-oriented social needs screening tools;
  • Achieving population health: The power of team-based care;
  • Tackling readmissions and ER frequent flyers for the primary care practice;
  • Succeeding in the Quality Payment Program: Know your history and choose your targets;
  • Integrating behavioral health into a primary care practice with a high-need population; and
  • Implementing e-consults to increase access to specialty care in rural Texas. 

How can we measure the summit’s impact? Recently I had a conversation with one of the presenters from last year’s summit. She reported that after hearing a presentation about integrating oral health into primary care, she implemented a similar program in her clinic in Dallas. Making a difference in the health of our fellow Texans is why we do this work. 

The summit is the product of a collaboration between the Texas Medical Home Initiative and the Texas Health Institute. Other long-time collaborators are the Texas Medical Association, Texas Academy of Family Physicians, Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians, Texas Pediatric Society, and the TMF Health Quality Institute. Additional partners are Texas A&M’s Rural Community Health Institute and the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

In the summer of 2018, we held a strategic planning retreat with our steering committee during which we decided to rebrand our partnership as the Texas Primary Care Consortium. The reason for the rebranding is that we plan to expand our footprint beyond the summit to pursue research and technical assistance opportunities that advance primary care in Texas. The annual Texas Primary Care and Health Home Summit will continue to be our principal activity. 

More information, including how to register, can be found on the Texas Primary Care Consortium’s website. 

Dallas internist Sue S. Bornstein, MD, is executive director of the Texas Medical Home Initiative, an American College of Physicians regent, and serves on the TMA Board of Trustees.