How Four Organizations Trained MAs for the Advanced Medical Home

See how PinnacleHealth Medical Group, MaineGeneral Health, WellSpan Health, and Union Health Center approached medical assistant training.

To take the medical home to the next level, you must reexamine care team roles.

For example, when given proper training, support staff such as MAs and LPNs can handle a range of care management duties that extend beyond their traditional clinical and administrative roles.

This briefing details how four organizations approached this training.

Meet the profiled organizations

PinnacleHealth Medical Group
A network of more than 100 primary care providers and specialists with 25 locations in central Pennsylvania; affiliated with PinnacleHealth System in Harrisburg, Penn.

To improve consistency in the MA role, PinnacleHealth created an in-house, credentialed training program to refine clinical skills and set expectations for workflow changes and patient interactions.

MaineGeneral Health
Two-hospital, not-for-profit system with 10 primary care offices in Kennebec Valley, Maine.

To better leverage and train MAs, MaineGeneral actively prioritized top-of-license care by creating an "Excellence in Office Care" department and a dedicated steering committee to lead MA training program development.

WellSpan Health
Four-hospital health system based in south central Pennsylvania.

WellSpan Health developed a practice-based model where existing care management team members work closely to manage a group of patients across the continuum—calling on LPNs/MAs to assume the health coach role.

Union Health Center
A comprehensive primary and specialty care center in New York, N.Y., that includes 10+ PCPs and 30+ specialists; received NCQA Level 3 recognition in 2010.

Recognizing that MAs could take on more responsibilities, UHC secured two grants to develop a 12-month training curriculum focused on chronic disease and self-management support.

Top five insights from MA training programs

1. Support care team redesign at the top, but ensure efforts are driven by the front line. Dedicated leadership teams responsible for training program development and implementation ensure consistency, standardization, and ongoing success and sustainability.

2. Design programs to address goals for specific support staff positions, but engage the entire care team so they are aware of the changes and can work together as a cohesive unit.

3. Create a shared baseline by first standardizing foundational frontline MA clinical and administrative skills and expectations.

4. Advance beyond clinical and administrative skills to develop targeted health coach competencies. Specific, non-clinical training can help MAs foster productive patient relationships and enhance support for primary care providers.

5. Empower continuous MA development by creating a compelling career ladder.

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