Strengthening Team-Based Primary Care in California

Strengthening Team-Based Primary Care in California

May 20, 2024
A group of primary care providers working as a team.

A new report released by the California Health Care Foundation and Mathematica lays out recommendations for how California can support the education and training of primary care teams. These teams have been shown to improve health care quality, patient outcomes, and access to care while decreasing provider burnout and reducing health care costs.

Interprofessional team-based care includes groups of health professionals and allied health and nonclinical workers that collaborate and share responsibilities for patient care. The use of teams is growing and plays an important role in transforming primary care. But primary care teams need education and on-the-job training to effectively function as a unit. In California, policymakers are working to develop a workforce prepared to meet the state’s health care needs, which include using a team-based approach to primary care.

The report provides the following policy considerations for California:

  • Fund demonstration projects to foster innovation in interprofessional education and collaborative practice and expand clinic-based interprofessional education opportunities for learners and care teams.
  • Grant money to innovative institutions to package and share curricula and training materials to increase access to evidence-based interprofessional education for academic and training institutions.
  • Offer individual scholarships to support faculty development for interprofessional education and to mitigate barriers related to a lack of faculty with time and training to teach and oversee interprofessional education.
  • Fund learning collaboratives focused on interprofessional education and collaborative practice to help share best practices and lessons learned and to cultivate peer learning and innovation among academic and training institutions and primary care sites.
  • Support initiatives to train practice coaches using evidence-based approaches to increase primary care sites’ access to trained professional practice coaches who can help optimize team-based care.
  • Develop resources to help make the business case for interprofessional education and interprofessional collaborative practice.
  • Modify Graduate Medical Education funding mechanisms to incentivize efforts to train a broader range of interprofessional primary care team members together at the same training sites.
  • Advocate for policy changes that support primary care teams, such as increasing the amount of money invested in primary care and shifting from fee-for-service reimbursement to payment models aligned with interprofessional team-based care delivery (for example, prospective capitated payments).

“Academic institutions and primary care practices are increasingly investing in interprofessional team-based care, but current training and resources are insufficient,” said Diane Rittenhouse, a senior fellow at Mathematica. “Our research identified ways that California can advance interprofessional collaboration, which is vital to achieving high-quality, patient-centered primary care.”

This work is part of a broader effort by Mathematica, in partnership with the California Health Care Foundation, to support the California Health Workforce Education and Training Council, a state advisory council launched in 2022.