Commonwealth Fund launches Safety Net Medical Home Initiative

The Commonwealth Fund, along with eight others, is launching a national Safety Net Medical Home Initiative, which will provide $6 million over four years to help 68 community health centers in five states become patient-centered medical homes.

Health centers in Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon and Pennsylvania will be given technical assistance, training and support to improve how they deliver care to patients.

"In order to have a truly high-performing healthcare system in this country we must have high-quality, well-coordinated, patient-centered primary care," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. "This initiative is an investment in the long-term health of these clinics as well as this model of care. With safety net clinics leading the way, we hope to show how all primary care practices can transition into true medical homes providing the best care possible."

The initiative is being led by Qualis Health, a Seattle-based quality improvement organization.

"While many of the participating community health centers and other safety net clinics have implemented creative innovations to provide high quality, cost effective, patient-centered care, all have identified – and are committed to closing - gaps between their current systems and the best achievable performance," said Jonathan Sugarman, MD, the principal investigator and president and CEO of Qualis Health.

The goals of the initiative are to transform these health centers and promote state policy options to ensure that the model is sustained and spread throughout each state. Officials hope that at the end of the initial grant period, all 68 health centers will be recognized as models of excellence.

The initiative will work with existing safety net clinics and community stakeholders to help clinics reach high benchmark levels of quality, efficiency and patient experience. In addition to technical assistance, each state coordinating center will receive $500,000 over the life of the grant period.

The initiative will include funding and support to help health centers make the most efficient use of their existing health information technology and resources. To best leverage funds, funders sought participants that had already demonstrated a commitment to the patient-centered medical home model and had taken initial steps to improve the care they provide.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to partner with such a wide range of healthcare experts and funders on this initiative, one of the few efforts to specifically target safety-net clinics," said Melinda Abrams, assistant vice president for the Commonwealth Fund's Patient-Centered Medical Home Initiative. "Ideally, at the end of the grant period, these states will have an established network of high quality health clinics serving their most vulnerable residents and we will have a model for improving healthcare practice and policy that can be replicated across the country."

Aside from the Commonwealth Fund, other involved in the initiative are the Colorado Health Foundation, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation of Pittsburgh, the Northwest Health Foundation of Portland, Ore., Partners Healthcare in Boston, The Boston Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

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