As 2022 approaches, the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) plans to focus on addressing health equity issues and implementing information technology (IT) services in clinics that enable “holistic” care and more time spent with patients, says new MCPA CEO Phillip Bergquist.
Get the latest information on state-specific policies for the healthcare sector delivered to your inbox.
Bergquist become the new CEO of MPCA in early November and was previously the Chief Operating Officer (COO). He plans to approach the new role using a “strategic planning” lens and will focus on taking real action to drive meaningful results, the same way he approached his job as COO. .
“I am really focused on the strategic plan as a real operational framework, [which is] go beyond big goals and big statements to [answer]”What are we really doing?”
Bergquist’s highest priority is creating meaningful outcomes around health equity and reducing health disparities. In October, the MPCA adopted a new strategic plan focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Throughout 2021, MPCA has worked to strengthen equity consideration at the grassroots level by creating structures and new visions around equity. This included adding a director of health equity and social justice — a position held by Debbie Edokpolo — and creating a committee with health center CEOs around health equity.
“One of the places where we started [was] ensuring that structures, governance, strategic objectives, mission vision and all of the above are covered, above all, through a health equity lens.
Bergquist said the foundation established by the MPCA has led — and will continue to lead — to greater action promoting health equity within the organization and across primary care in the state.
From this base, the MPCA focuses on maternal health disparities, an area in which Bergquist said the disparities are particularly significant. This prominence allows MPCA to better identify solutions to the problem.
“We know there is a disparity that we can quantify and attack and so we are trying, starting with maternal health outcomes, to bring a group of people together to really reach patients.”
The MPCA recently launched a program that conducts “orientation sessions” or interviews with new mothers and expectant mothers to learn about the disparities anecdotally. MPCA hopes to learn more about the diverse perspectives of Michigan mothers in order to best improve outcomes that will have meaningful impacts.
Next, the MPCA plans to address disparities in chronic disease management, particularly around diabetes and hypertension.
Rob Pazdan, Director of Information at the MPCA, highlighted the importance of IT in future work to address health equity issues. Allowing providers to care more about their patients and less about their technology leads to better outcomes and more time with patients.
Virtually—a new IT service used by MPCA members—recently launched in October with the goal of reducing costs and creating a more efficient IT system for primary care clinicians.
It offers inclusive service lines, hands-on computer system training, and support for electronic health records (EHR). The service also provides a fully attended remote monitoring and management (RMM) system, which will help perform regular IT management for clinicians so they can focus on their patients.
“Health centers, like everyone else, have staffing problems. They have to face not only what is in front of them, but also to do for the long haul [IT] things everyone should do. It’s about audits and keeping tabs on the ongoing health of your information systems and technology. These are the things that we think we can really help a modern health center and let that health center focus on what it needs to focus on and bring us in and increase that capacity.