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ACOG's Provider's Partnership Project

The Provider's Partnership includes a series of state-level projects initiated to address key women's health issues such as depression and tobacco use. The complementary goals for this activity are addressing important women's health issues, while simultaneously building state-level partnerships between ACOG Fellows, public health and community leadership that can work together on this and future projects.This initiative has provided technical assistance and support to ACOG sections for projects sharing the common theme of partnership building between the section and public health. They have resulted not only in innovative initiatives, but also in enduring collaborations.

Psychosocial issues greatly impact the health and well being of women. The morbidity and mortality attributed to issues such as a woman's depression, tobacco use, substance abuse and domestic violence are becoming increasingly apparent as they weigh on both the woman and her entire family. OB/GYNs can play a critical role in addressing these problems within their current practice, however because of the complexity of psychosocial issues and the importance of promptly linking at-risk women with appropriate services, responsibility for full psychosocial assessment and treatment cannot fall solely to OB/GYNs. Partnerships between these women's health care providers and community programs are needed that allow for integration of medical care with psychosocial services. Such partnerships enhance service integration, minimize demands on individual providers, and facilitate movement between providers and agencies with multiple disciplines and services joining to create comprehensive care.

How do these partnerships work?
In the summer of 2001, ACOG state leadership was surveyed to determine the top psychosocial issues affecting their practice. Tobacco use and depression were the topics they identified. The Partnership Project is working with a growing number of state groups focused on the above-mentioned women's health issues. Each partnership group includes an ACOG Fellow appointed by the state ACOG Section Chair, a representative from the state Title V (MCH) division of the public health system and representatives from state and local organizations and chapters of national organizations. Partnership teams meet to develop initiatives on a state and local level to assess and address their issue of focus.

Here's some examples:
The North Carolina Provider's Partnership team is surveying all OB providers in the state on their screening, counseling and referral practices for perinatal tobacco use. The result of this survey will be the basis for the development of statewide legislative and practice policy guidelines. Other states have set up pilot screening initiatives for depression in women; still others have instituted provider training and technical assistance for depression screening and intervention. In partnership, the teams are able to draw on the resources and expertise of each participant and from the other teams to better achieve outcomes of mutual benefit. Each team must assess the extent of the problem or issue with a mutual definition of the issue and identify barriers to solution. The teams then pinpoint resources, and strategize possible actions to be taken. Then the team develops a plan of action with short-term achievable goals and the specific activities to meet those goals.

What have these partnerships done?
ACOG state partnership teams have become a powerful force in the states where they exist. For example, because of their broad constituency, the teams have the potency to be heard at the state legislative level speaking to support bills and resolutions to promote their cause. Additionally, teams are able to get the attention of managed care organizations for the promotion of enhanced reimbursement for screening, assessment and treatment of these psychosocial issues within primary care. By concentrating on both systems development and service provision, the partnerships have been successful in identifying foundational and organizational gaps in services as well as unrecognized or utilized resources. By networking with other state partnerships, the teams are not having to "recreate the wheel", profiting from the expertise and experience of others. Teams have even joined forces in an attempt to create a regional coalition for training and technical assistance. In a time when more and more is being asked of the woman's health care provider in regard to screening and counseling and when less incentive for doing this is offered, it has become more difficult for providers to have the time to become involved in initiatives outside of their daily scope of service. The Provider's Partnership Project has utilized strategies to both recruit and retain busy women's health providers who are passionate about these psychosocial issues.

Why should I get involved?
Psychosocial issues greatly impact the health and well being of women. The morbidity and mortality attributed to issues such as a woman's depression, tobacco use, substance abuse and domestic violence are becoming increasingly apparent as they weigh on both the woman and her entire family. OB/GYNs can play a critical role in addressing these problems within their current practice, however because of the complexity of psychosocial issues and the importance of promptly linking at-risk women with appropriate services, responsibility for full psychosocial assessment and treatment cannot fall solely to OB/GYNs. Partnerships between these women's health care providers and community programs are needed that allow for integration of medical care with psychosocial services. Such partnerships enhance service integration, minimize demands on individual providers, and facilitate movement between providers and agencies with multiple disciplines and services joining to create comprehensive care.

How can I get involved?
To find out the current partnership activities in your state please contact

Jeanne Mahoney Director, Partnership Project
202.314.2352
Email: jmahoney@acog.org

Contact:

Jeanne Mahoney

jmahoney@acog.org