December 8, 2020

PCDC Clinical and Quality Partners: A New Identity for Changing Times

This week, Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) announced the Clinical and Quality Partners, a new identity for what was previously known as PCDC’s Performance Improvement team.

The new name goes beyond semantics, says Isaac Kastenbaum [pictured], the team’s Vice President, who joined PCDC earlier this year.

In a recent conversation, Kastenbaum talked about the importance of his staff’s work — especially amid a pandemic — and how PCDC’s partners benefit.


Why a name change now?

Health care has changed radically since the 1990s and even more so during the pandemic, and PCDC has evolved with it. Our technical assistance and training efforts have grown and become more targeted in their impact. We continue to support primary care infrastructure and operations, but have grown in our ability to support new programming to support advances in telehealth, updated quality reporting and performance requirements, changing payment models, and more. Our experts are working with providers and networks to modernize care models and build deeper, more meaningful partnerships in their communities to drive improvements that help patients, staff, and the bottom line. We’ve continued to grow our support of other primary services as well, including AIDS Service Organizations, behavioral health providers, and even new startups, all centered on providing whole-person care.

For our partners, this means access to more robust and responsive portfolio of trainings and technical assistance. It means supporting practices and providers through workshops to improve staff capacity in essential healthcare delivery skills, through data analysis to understand providers’ opportunities, and through deep-dive problem solving to address access, outcomes, financial performance, and ultimately, sustained community impact. We’re excited about this work and the differences it makes to our clients- from leading training on Trauma Informed Care and Adverse Childhood Experiences for small practices across California to partnering with our Community Investment colleagues to bring capital and no-cost technical assistance to FQHCs across New York, and supporting continued evolutions in HIV care across the Northeast, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

As the effects of the pandemic become even more clear and we prepare for broad dissemination of vaccines in 2021, community-based providers will remain an essential access point for the most impacted communities. Whether rebounding from reduced operations or growing to meet the deferred health needs in their neighborhoods, health care providers and systems must now start to think about their long-term financial strength and reimbursement model, staffing needs and skills, use of telemedicine and other technology, and engagement with their community. We want to be a valuable partner in all those efforts.


How has the pandemic changed the team’s work?

It has not changed our work so much as reinforced how essential supporting community-based providers is, during and beyond this public health emergency. In some ways, our access to providers and frontline staff has increased with the greater presence of remote work and engagement, but the continued stress and change fatigue experienced by the frontline has required us to continuously rethink how we make ourselves available to providers.

In response, we’ve refocused much of our training and technical assistance for virtual access, with a focus on (1) enhancing staff communication skills and technology use (e.g. telehealth) to ensure providers continue to engage their patients throughout the pandemic, (2) ensuring maintenance of incentive programs to support the bottom line, and (3) implementing new programming to meet communities’ evolving needs, and (4) fostering important conversations around diversity and creating safe environments for all patients.

We also continue to provide support with Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition and other operational improvements, as these efforts can contribute significantly to quality and financial strength.


What are you hearing from your partners?

We consistently strive to be in constant contact  with our partners in the field — through listening sessions and town halls, requests through our website, and even after hours, through text messages with providers. Organizations continue to struggle to access personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep their staff and patients safe. They may be back to near pre-COVID in-person activity, but the various relief programs (e.g. Paycheck Protection Program) have not been sufficient to recover from the revenue lost in the early months of the pandemic. They’re also trying to support their staff to remain resilient, to be available to their communities despite technological and other access barriers, and to navigate the ever-changing state, federal, and individual health plan requirements.

Two quick examples – one small, independent practices reached out after hours for very immediate support in submission of their Paycheck Protection Program application, and another (an FQHC) asked for support with telemedicine billing for non-medical services.

We’re also hearing about the very real fatigue that is coming from compliance with the ongoing pandemic-related restrictions and with the conversion to primarily virtual interaction. To this extent, we’re working to expand other opportunities for cross-provider engagement and support through self-paced learning, more interactive virtual meetings, and the development of tools for immediate application.


What would you tell a primary care provider struggling to navigate this “new” world?

You are not alone. Fortunately, and unfortunately, providers are experiencing it together, all at once.

Through the pandemic and our country’s recovery, the communities where you practice need your support more than ever. While difficult to imagine at this moment of crisis, there are sound, tested ways to recover from the public health emergency, engage your community in their continued well-being, and to improve the health of your organization.

Please reach out to us — there is likely a different light at the end of this tunnel, and PCDC (all its parts – capital investmenttechnical assistance, and advocacy) is available to help you navigate your path forward.

Training and Technical Assistance

PCDC’s Clinical and Quality Partners team provide expert training, technical assistance, and coaching to support providers with solutions to help their practices thrive in their communities.