AAFP launched TransforMED in 2005 to advance practice improvement initiatives, such as those in medical homes, McGeeney says. Since then, TransforMED has worked with more than 500 primary care practices, impacting more than 11,000 providers and clinicians.
"Problems and challenges of primary care practices are pretty consistent across the board: access to care, communication, and local leadership," McGeeney says.
Physician practice coaching—often geared to hospitals that employ many physician groups—is particularly important in smaller communities that lack the "robust quality improvement infrastructures" found in larger hospitals and big medical groups, the Commonwealth Fund study states. "The majority of primary care practices simply lack the expertise, will, or resources to improve care for their patients, and they need help," the report says.
Surprisingly, practice coaching has its roots in agricultural models of the early 20th century, where agricultural experts and farmers would develop collaborative relationships and share best practices. "Just as small farmers were most in need of the kind of support, it is these smaller physician practices that are most in need of help," the Commonwealth study states.
Whether practices are big or small, it is becoming more difficult for primary care physicians to spend time on improving care, according to McGeeney, and the situation is likely to worsen with impending physician shortages.