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CareSouth Carolina recognized by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program: The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices

Following a rigorous nationwide review process, CareSouth Carolina has been selected as an exemplary model of workforce innovation for a new project: The Primary Care Team:  Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices (The LEAP Project). The LEAP Project is a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation at Group Health Research Institute.

CareSouth Carolina is one of 30 primary care practices that has been selected for this distinction, out of hundreds of practices that were nominated by national experts and rated by a National Advisory Committee. The LEAP Project will study and share innovative staffing arrangements that make primary care more accessible and effective for patients.

“With millions more Americans about to enter the health care system, primary care must become more efficient and effective.  Building high performing care teams is a key step,” said Ed Wagner, MD, MPH, co-director of the LEAP project and director emeritus of the MacColl Center for Health Care Innovations.

Ann Lewis, CEO at CareSouth Carolina, has been selected to serve on the planning committee for the Learning Community that the LEAP project is creating.  That community will enable practices across the nation to explore the factors that lead to effective implementation of innovations and provide valuable input into the workforce innovation package developed by LEAP.   She was selected as a representative of one of the exemplar sites (CareSouth Carolina) along with representatives from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Advisory Council.

“We are elated by this distinction,” says Ann Lewis, CEO at CareSouth Carolina.  “We continue to try and do innovative things that are team based and patient centered, but it’s always exciting when someone recognizes our efforts.  What’s most exciting to us, though, is the shared learning to be had across the nation as a result of this project.  We are glad to share, but we are also excited to learn and help spread innovation that works.”

The 30 practices selected represent a variety of settings, practice configurations, sizes, and locations and include private practices, large health systems, and community health centers across the country.  They represent 20 states, and settings as varied as rural Colorado, inner-city New York, and Washington, D.C.  A LEAP team led by Ed Wagner, MD, MPH, National Program Co-Director, Margaret Flinter, PhD, APRN, National Program Co-Director, and Tom Bodenheimer, MD, MPH, National Advisory Committee Chair has already conducted a three-day site visit to understand how CareSouth Carolina’s primary care team delivers high quality, patient-centered health care. The exemplar practices will then join together in a learning community to share best practices and distill their innovations into training and technical assistance materials that can be used by others.

“Now more than ever, the country recognizes that a great health care system has to build on a strong primary care foundation.  We are seeing innovation all over the country, particularly in the area of primary care, but there has been little study of how practices have redefined traditional roles and built a team approach to caring for patients,” commented Margaret Flinter, PhD, APRN, LEAP project co-director, senior vice president and clinical director of the Community Health Center, Inc., and director of its Weitzman Center for Innovation.  “We are very excited to have the opportunity to study these innovations that improve patient and practice outcomes, and to develop a strategy to replicate them nationally.”

CareSouth Carolina is a private, non-profit community-based corporation delivering patient-centered health and life services in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.  CareSouth Carolina operates centers in Bennettsville, Bishopville, Cheraw, Chesterfield, Hartsville, Lake View, McColl and Society Hill.  Services provided by CareSouth Carolina include family practice, women services, geriatrics, social services, clinical counseling, pharmaceutical services, laboratory and X-Ray.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country.  As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change.  For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves.

Named for a Group Health founder and pioneering physician, W.A. MacColl, MD, the MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation at Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) was established in 1993 by Ed Wagner, MD, MPH, who is a senior investigator and founding director of GHRI.  In the mid 1990s, the Center developed the Chronic Care Model, a widely endorsed and adopted approach to improving ambulatory care that has guided clinical quality initiatives in the United States and internationally.  The Center was also the home of Improving Chronic Illness Care, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program that has been involved in further developing, testing, and dissemination Chronic Care Model-based clinical improvement efforts.