GPIN offers QI support for med group leaders

Closed network is now accepting new members

For quality improvement efforts to work, they need the full support and encouragement of top leadership. But where can medical group leaders get their support?

The Group Practice Improvement Network (GPIN) in Detroit provides one such resource for informational programs, networking, and sharing of best practices. While GPIN has limited its membership to about 58 of the country’s large group practices (those with 50 or more physicians), it is currently accepting new members, says executive director Beth Anctil, RN, MSN. "GPIN’s focus is really around leadership skill building. What do the leaders need to know in order to affect change or improve outcomes?"

GPIN was formed in 1993 with the sponsorship of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston, the Medical Group Management Association in Englewood, CO, and the American Medical Group Association in Alexandria, VA.

Recently, GPIN has focused on helping medical group leaders cope with rapid change in health care. A new initiative will explore "creating idealized practice systems," such as improved access, demand management, incentives and compensation, clinical outcomes, and electronic medical records.

This initiative poses the question, "What are core components of having an efficient office practice?" says Anctil.

In fact, that is a question that GPIN members have wrestled with for some time. As a forum for quality improvement, GPIN has allowed members to share their successes — and challenges. For example, Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, which has about 450 physicians and 28 sites in southeastern Louisiana, developed an open access protocol in some clinics based on the experience of other GPIN peers, says executive administrator David Posch, MS, chairman of the GPIN steering committee.

"We want to move away from the notion of pre-appointed patients to a process of open access, [that] if you call, you get seen today," he says. "We’ve increased the number of appointments that are available on a same-day basis."

Ochsner Clinic also has applied principles learned from companies outside health care that presented at GPIN conferences, Posch explains. For example, the organization has adapted 10 dimensions of customer service from Sears Roebuck and Co. In particular, Sears emphasized the importance of employees understanding of the mission and goals of the company — "to look at your employee relations climate as part of your customer service initiative," he says.

Along with sharing ideas, GPIN offers practical advice, says Posch. "Through the workshops, we spend a fair amount of time learning about the tools and techniques of continuous quality improvement, as well as methods supporting leadership’s role with regard to nurturing change within an organization," he says.

[Editor’s note: For more information about the Group Practice Improvement Network, contact Beth Anctil, Executive Director, GPIN Administrative Offices, Henry Ford Health System, 1 Ford Place, 3A, Detroit, MI 48202-3450. Telephone: (313) 874-4746. Fax: (313) 874-3921. World Wide Web: http://www. gpin.org.]