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Integrating Primary Care at Sugar House

Collaborating for integrated primary careThe difference between general internal medicine, family medicine, or even pediatrics and community medicine, can be confusing for patients. That’s why a group of clinical leaders convened to try something new: integrated primary care in our new multispecialty health center in Sugar House.

The primary care integration committee, sponsored by the Medical Group and led by Molly Conroy, has been tasked with creating a model for a patient-facing, seamless primary care experience that will be implemented when the Sugar House health center opens. It sounds easy—but the cultural changes are impressive.

Erin Clouse, a strategist in the senior vice president’s office, is facilitating the committee’s work. “While the work may not be groundbreaking to the uninitiated, the effect it will have on patients will be important,” Clouse said. Clouse and team worked with a variety of clinical leaders to identify crucial similarities and differences that, when considered from the patient’s experience, make care easier. Areas of agreement include expanded clinic hours, provider lane scheduling, and one primary care phone number for patients. Other important elements include identifying a single primary care medical director and a shared onboarding process for all primary care providers. The significance of these agreements shouldn’t be underestimated. “Sometimes it is these little things that make a big difference with how patients interact with our health care system,” Clouse said.

John Barrett, executive medical director of CPG, emphasized how important transparency is to the success of the committee. “Primary care is the foundation of any large health system, so integration of primary care is an initial and important step,” Barrett said. “While there is still much work to do, we’ve begun with transparency and establishing relationships of trust.”

While it may seem soft, that element of trust is key to the committee’s work. “Our ability to work as one primary care, connected to specialists, is going to give patients that coordinated care that is missing in health care right now,” Clouse said.