On March 19, 2015, Family Medicine for America’s Health, a partnership of eight leading family medicine organizations in the United States, visited Seattle to hear from a panel group of Washington family physicians who are revolutionizing health care delivery, each through a unique innovation.  The visit was part of the Health is Primary City Tour. The campaign is traveling to cities across the country to highlight individuals, organizations, and communities that demonstrate the benefits of primary care in achieving the Triple Aim.

Moderated by author, documentary filmmaker and reporter T.R. Reid, the roundtable discussion featured Washington family physicians who shared stories of primary care innovation and transformation efforts that are improving health care delivery and leading to better outcomes in patient and population health.

The panel included Chair, Family Medicine for America’s Health (and former WAFP/AAFP President and Washington State resident), Glen Stream, MD, MBI, FAAFP.

“The State of Washington is a national hotspot for innovations that are changing the face of primary care, improving patients’ health and reducing the cost of care,” said Stream. “The state’s thriving primary care community has developed new models of patient care and is expanding the primary care workforce to deliver this care.”

Topics and panelists included:

  • “Innovative Payment Model – Direct Primary Care” – Erika Bliss, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Qliance. Dr. Bliss is a national leader in the Direct Primary Care Model.  Founded in Seattle, Qliance is using a patient focus and innovative payment model to dramatically improve patient and physician satisfaction while reducing costs by 20 percent.
  • “Novel Accountable Care Partnership for Medicare Advantage Patients” – Carroll Haymon, MD.  Dr. Haymon is a practicing family physician at Iora Health, a local primary care practice dedicated to seniors and improving health with integrated care teams that include doctors, nurses, health coaches, medication management, behavioral health and social service resources.
  • “Primary Care Training Programs for Underserved Areas” – Tom Norris, MD, FAAFP, Chair, University of Washington Department of Family Medicine.  Dr. Norris explained the Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST) – a program dedicated to strengthening the primary care pipeline in underserved and rural areas across the five-state WWAMI region by admitting students specifically from underserved areas, anticipating that they will eventually return as trained medical professionals.
  • “Broadening Services to include Behavioral Health” – Russell Maier, MD, FAAFP, Program Director at Central Washington Family Medicine Residency.  Dr. Maier trains residents at Community Health of Central Washington to provide comprehensive, community-based and continuous ambulatory care to medically underserved patients representative of the cultural, socio-economic and demographic diversity of Central Washington. Thanks to recent policy changes and grant funding, Dr. Maier’s community health clinics have been able to add fulltime behavioral health therapists and a number of community health workers which has shown a dramatic improvement in patients’ health and personal lives.
  • “Group Visits for Patients with Chronic Disease” – Devin Sawyer, MD, Program Director, Providence St. Peter Family Medicine Residency Program.  Dr. Sawyer is an Olympia-based family doctor using planned care and group visits to treat patients with diabetes. His patients demonstrated lower blood sugars, maintained over time, and lower cholesterol readings than the clinical average. These patients were also twice as likely to engage in self-management and goal setting compared to patients seen individually.
  • “Partnership between a Large Hospital System and a Non-Profit Clinic” – Richard Kovar, MD, FAAFP, Medical Director, Country Doctor Community Health Centers.  With payment models shifting to reward value over volume, Swedish Medical Center provided financial support to non-profit Country Doctor Community Health Centers to establish an after-hours clinic adjacent to the hospital’s emergency room. This arrangement, which focuses on caring for underserved patients, provides a lower-cost alternative to the emergency department and helps link patients without a physician to a primary care medical home.