Teaching Today in the Practice Setting of the Future: Implementing Innovations in Graduate Medical Education

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Implementing an innovation, such as offering new types of patient–physician encounters through the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model while maintaining Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation standards (e.g., patient encounter minimums for trainees), is challenging.


In 2009, the Group Health Family Medicine Residency (GHFMR) received an ACGME Program Experimentation and Innovation Project (PEIP) exception that redefined the minimum Family Medicine Resident Review Committee requirement to 1,400 face-to-face visits and 250 electronic visits (1 electronic visit defined as 3 secure message or telephone encounters). The authors report GHFMR residents’ continuity clinic encounters, specifically volume, from 2006 through 2013 via pre- and post-PCMH implementation. They discuss the implications for leaders of high-performing practices who desire to innovate while maintaining accreditation.


Post-PCMH residents had 20% more overall patient contact. The largest change in care delivery method included a large increase in secure messages between patients and residents. Pre-PCMH residents had more face-to-face encounters; however, post-PCMH residents had more contact for all types of patient care encounters (face-to-face, secure messaging, and telephone) per hour of clinic time.

Next Steps

The ACGME PEIP exception, allowing the incorporation of the PCMH, facilitated an increase in patient access and immersed residents in primary care innovation (namely, practicing in a PCMH model during graduate medical education training). The next steps are to assess the effect of the PCMH on resident learning and clinical outcomes and to continue residents’ access to training that keeps pace with today’s health care delivery needs.

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