Advocacy & Health Policy: Community-based Health: Strengthening Provider Relationships Through Community Coalitions

Anna-Maria Roaché, MPH, Program Specialist, NWICA Consortium Program

The provider-patient relationship is one of the most important factors in positive patient health outcomes and overall quality of life. Community-based projects like Community Partnerships for Healthy Mothers and Children Project (CPHMC) connect health care providers with their patients and the community they serve.

To learn more about the project, read about the success of CPHMC in the January 2017 edition of ACOG Rounds.

Junith Thompson, MD, ob-gyn health care provider for Racine Kenosha, Wisconsin, has served on the CPHMC leadership team for two years as the clinical advisor for the Racine Kenosha, Community Action Agency. She assisted in the creation of objectives to prevent and overall reduce chronic disease and had a significant role in increasing referrals to WIC and access to healthy food in her community.  

I sat down with Dr. Thompson to  get a firsthand account of how being part of the leadership team for a community-based project has changed her practice and what major takeaways she has reported.

 

What are the advantages of participating in community-based projects?

Dr. Thompson: "I feel connected to my community. It helps to increase awareness of the needs of the community. These projects allow for us as providers to increase our interaction with other community leaders. These projects also assist with creating a strong referral base, and allow us to gain a great sense of community partnerships and togetherness, as well as creating friendships and awareness of resources along the way."

 

How have you applied lessons learned during this experience to your practice?

Dr. Thompson: "WIC is now a community resource for me to refer families."

 

What are best practices for keeping providers engaged in these types of projects?

Dr. Thompson: "Continue to engage in dialogues one-on-one, stop by offices with WIC providers, and engage office nursing staff."

 

How do you feel coalitions can sustain projects within their community?

Dr. Thompson: "For this project, we have had several meetings. It would be best to continue with monthly or quarterly office meetings and try to engage others. It is also important to solicit financial support from community hospitals/businesses."

 

How are communities influenced by community-based projects led by providers?

Dr. Thompson: "We are helping build a culture of health in the community. Providers can be a voice of influence and encourage patients to set healthy goals. People tend to listen to doctors, especially as a voice of influence, and the collaborative efforts of health care providers and community leaders is of paramount importance in achieving a successful outcome."

 

Community-based projects are now included in the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process for ob-gyns. Is this a good medium to promote providers/community relationships?

Dr. Thompson: "Yes. The services that my local WIC office/clinic provided became real for me when I was invited to participate in this project. This encouraged me to make a visit and follow a client through the registration process and visit with the dietitian. The fact that it is involved in the MOC process makes it more accessible to ob-gyns who are looking to get their certification."

 

How important is the community/provider relationship for your practice?

Dr. Thompson:  "I think it’s very important. It is a great resource base to refer patients to for nutritional guidance, especially in pregnancy and breastfeeding or prenatal classes."

 

How has your knowledge of community health projects grown?

Dr. Thompson: "A great deal. Listening to the ideas of other community leaders and health care professionals on the coalition team has broadened my referral base and improved my knowledge of community resources. The meetings have been very productive and enlightening."

 

How has this project helped to improve the health of your community? 

Dr. Thompson: "Education has helped to increase awareness. Patients are more motivated to eat healthier, exercise, and achieve mental wellness and smoking cessation."

 

Would you recommend other clinicians participate?

Dr. Thompson: "Most definitely. This would greatly improve their sense of accomplishment as they help patients to make more positive lifestyle changes."

 

Despite funding coming to a close for many of these community-based projects, these communities have put into action several sustainable plans to continue this great work.

For more information on how to get involved in a community-based project, contact Program Specialist Anna-Maria Roache at aroache@acog.org

Learn more about CPHMC

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188 | Mailing Address: PO Box 70620, Washington, DC 20024-9998