By Heather Wilson, Department of Family Medicine
Thomas Bodenheimer, MD, a nationally renowned expert in team-based primary care and provider wellness, visited Chapel Hill as the 13th Annual Robert R. Huntley visiting professor. During the course of his stay, he applauded UNC School of Medicine’s Wellness Initiatives and affirmed UNC Family Medicine’s efforts to transform their clinic.
“It’s really incredible, to have one of your heroes visit your practice and praise your work,” said Cristy Page, MD, interim chair of Family Medicine. “It’s so meaningful to our department, to our mission.”
Bodenheimer is the founding director of the Center for Excellence in Primary Care at the University of California San Francisco. In his work as director of the Center, he and his colleagues have surveyed 30 primary care teaching clinics from all over the country. “The UNC Family Medicine Center is the best academic teaching clinic we have seen,” he said, in reflecting on his visit.
During his visit, Bodenheimer had planned to lead an exercise with medical assistants and clinicians about maximizing MA time — an exercise he had led while at other clinics. However, after shadowing a Lean-trained MA and talking to clinic leadership about their quality metrics and clinic flow, the visiting professor had to revamp the exercise. Family Medicine was just so much further ahead of the vast majority of practices Bodenheimer had studied.
“It is such a privilege to learn how the UNC Family Medicine Center takes such good care of its patients,” Bodenheimer said, “while also providing such excellent teaching for residents.”
Bodenheimer’s visit was also inspiring for the School of Medicine. Bodenheimer is co-author of the seminal article, "From Triple to Quadruple Aim: Care of the Patient Requires Care of the Provider."
In August 2016, the School of Medicine officially adopted the Quadruple Aim, inaugurating a series of initiatives and policies designed to lessen burn out and improve provider quality of life.
The UNC SOM Wellness Initiative organized a Lunch and Learn featuring Bodenheimer. The visiting professor spoke about the Quadruple Aim to an audience of faculty, chairs, and wellness committee members.
“The SOM is taking adoption of the Quadruple Aim seriously,” Bodenheimer said. “You understand the importance of working to improve quality of the work environment for all clinicians.”
Indeed, in the last year, the School of Medicine has organized a broad-reaching effort to improve and transform wellness across the institution, for medical students, residents, and clinicians. “Adding in clinician/provider wellness is not optional,” commented Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, director of the Wellness Initiative. “It is the way to deliver the highest quality health care that UNC strives for.”
On Wednesday, March 1 Bodenheimer lectured to a packed room—there was record interest in the event from Family Medicine, School of Medicine, as well as the larger health care community.
Bodenheimer’s visit was made possible by the support of Family Medicine, UNC School of Medicine Wellness Initiative and Office of Faculty Affairs and Leadership Development, and Dr. Joan Huntley. Joan’s belated husband, Dr. Robert R. Huntley, influenced the founding of the department of UNC Family Medicine.