Problem: Academic medical centers (AMCs) need new approaches to delivering higher-quality care at lower costs, and engaging trainees in the work of high-functioning primary care practices.
Approach: In 2012, the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care, in partnership with with local AMCs, established an Academic Innovations Collaborative (AIC) with the goal of transforming primary care education and practice. This novel two-year learning collaborative consisted of hospital- and community-based primary care teaching practices, committed to building highly functional teams, managing populations, and engaging patients. The AIC built on models developed by Qualis Health and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, optimized for the local AMC context. Foundational elements included leadership engagement and development, application of rapid-cycle process improvement, and the creation of teams to care for defined patient populations. Nineteen practices across six AMCs participated, with nearly 260,000 patients and 450 resident learners. The collaborative offered three 1.5-day learning sessions each year featuring shared learning, practice coaches, and improvement measures, along with monthly data reporting, webinars, and site visits.
Outcomes: Validated self-reports by transformation teams showed that practices made substantial improvement across all areas of change. Important factors for success included leadership development, practice-level resources, and engaging patients and trainees.
Next steps: The AIC model shows promise as a path for AMCs to catalyze health system transformation through primary care improvement. In addition to further evaluating the impact of practice transformation, expansion will require support from AMCs and payers, and the application of similar approaches on a broader scale.