Published September 12, 2014
A distance-learning practice facilitator program developed and supported by the Department of Family Medicine has been selected as a national exemplar by the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ).
The University at Buffalo’s Practice Facilitator Certificate Program — the only university program of its kind in the nation — trains individuals to help medical practices evaluate and improve quality of care.
“UB is a national leader in practice facilitation training,” says Chester M. Fox, MD, professor of family medicine, who directs and helped initiate the program.
The AHRQ selected UB’s program as one of three nationwide to highlight as a case study in 2014. The course was piloted in summer 2013 and offered the following fall and spring.
“The agency calls it an exemplary training program,” says Fox.
“We captured a lot of the major leaders in the field to guide, direct and contribute to the materials in this course, so we have expertise from all over the country working together,” he says.
The program develops the knowledge and skills practice facilitators need to support quality improvement in diverse medical practices.
Also known as quality improvement coaches or community health advocates, among other titles, these professionals engage in various activities designed to improve clinical and administrative processes.
Duties may include, for example:
The Department of Family Medicine ensures the quality of the course’s design and content, overseeing instruction, developing the curriculum and recommending faculty.
Fox, who provides consultation and program oversight, is an expert on practice facilitation and director of the Upstate New York Practice-Based Research Network. He uses practice facilitation as a key component to engage clinicians in quality improvement activities and translate evidence into practice.
The program, available to trainees nationwide, consists of 13 weekly online seminars.
Seminars include lectures, virtual group discussions and presentations by national experts.
The program also includes a preceptorship, providing trainees with practical experience in the field.
It is housed in UB’s Millard Fillmore College, a lifelong learning division serving nontraditional students that supports and facilitates course delivery.