Practice facilitation (or coaching) can make the difference between success or failure in becoming a medical home

A trusted coach can help a health care practice organize their improvement effort and overcome the setbacks that can occur with large-scale change. When combined with peer-to-peer learning, such as involvement in an improvement collaborative, practice coaching can help health care systems not only solve problems but also develop their internal capacity for guiding quality improvement initiatives.

How we define practice coaching

Practice facilitators (also known as a practice coaches, QI coaches, and practice enhancement assistants) are specially trained individuals who work with primary care practices “to make meaningful changes designed to improve patients’ outcomes. [They] help physicians and quality improvement teams develop the skills they need to adapt clinical evidence to the specific circumstance of their practice environment”.1  This support may be provided on site, virtually (through phone conferences and webinars), or through a combination of onsite and virtual visits.

Our practice facilitation work spans a decade and has helped support primary care practices nationwide

We have trained facilitators ourselves, developed curricula for others to perform training, and supported health systems, primary care associations and others in adding coaches to their workforce. The most recent trainings we've conducted were with the Healthy Hearts Northwest practice facilitators working in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

1 DeWalt D, Powell J, Mainwaring B, et al. Practice coaching program manual. Washington, DC: Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q), George Washington University Medical Center; 2010.

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