Lahey Hospital & Medical Center is the anchor hospital in a comprehensive community healthcare system on the North Shore, providing patients with a full continuum of care. Nearly 150,000 patients seek services through one of its primary care sites annually and most often the patients’ journey begins at the primary care level. Medical assistants play an integral role in the delivery of primary health care.
Recently Lahey Hospital & Medical Center was awarded a Health Care Workforce Transformation Fund Grant of $49,967 to partner with one of its long-standing partners, Middlesex Community College, to assess the current skill level of Lahey’s medical assistants and determine what skills they may need in order for the hospital to optimize patient-centered care. Medical assistants are vital to the healthcare service delivery system and medical assistants with the right set of skills can help increase patient flow, improve care coordination with quality metrics, and keep patients engaged in care plans.
The grant activity will inform the development of a medical assistant training curriculum geared to expand the role of medical assistants while reducing reliance on more expensive providers. It will also provide a career ladder for low-wage medical assistants by advancing them in developing Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) roles.
“We know that our medical assistants and care givers are on the front lines of the patient experience,” said Dr. Richard Kalish, M.D., Chair of the Division of Primary Care at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. “If they are provided new skills and allowed to take a more active role in primary care, it will make for better outcomes – not only for patients but also for primary caregivers.”
The Health Care Workforce Transformation Fund was established in 2012 as part of Massachusetts’ healthcare cost containment legislation – an effort to reduce healthcare costs while improving quality of care in Massachusetts. On April 3, 2014 Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development announced the 51 Health Care Workforce Transformation Planning Grants. The Planning Grants support the development of new service delivery models that improve quality of care and lower healthcare costs.
A second round of Health Care Workforce Transformation Fund grants will be awarded in 2014. These Training Grants will support the on-the-ground implementation of new models. Proposals for Training Grants are due July 31, 2014. More information can be found on the Commonwealth Corporation website.
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