Original Research

PACT ICU Model: Interprofessional Case Conferences for High-Risk/High-Need Patients

Physician, nurse practitioner trainees, medical center faculty, and clinic staff develop proactive, team-based, interprofessional care plans to address unmet chronic care needs for high-risk patients.

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This article is part of a series that illustrates strategies intended to redesign primary care education at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), using interprofessional workplace learning. All have been implemented in the VA Centers of Excellence in Primary Care Education (CoEPCE). These models embody visionary transformation of clinical and educational environments that have potential for replication and dissemination throughout VA and other primary care clinical educational environments. For an introduction to the series see Klink K. Transforming primary care clinical learning environments to optimize education, outcomes, and satisfaction. Fed Pract. 2018;35(9):8-10.


In 2011, 5 US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers (VAMCs) were selected by the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) to establish CoEPCE. Part of the VA New Models of Care initiative, the 5 Centers of Excellence (CoE) in Boise, Idaho; Cleveland, Ohio; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; and West Haven, Connecticut, are utilizing VA primary care settings to develop and test innovative approaches to prepare physician residents and students, advanced practice nurse residents and undergraduate nursing students, and other professions of health trainees (eg, pharmacy, social work, psychology, physician assistants [PAs]) for primary care practice in the 21st century.

The Boise CoE developed and implemented a practice-based learning model. Nurse practitioner (NP) students and residents, physician residents, pharmacy residents, psychology interns, and psychology postdoctoral fellows participate in a comprehensive curriculum and practice together for 1 to 3 years. The goal is to produce providers who are able to lead and practice health care in patient-centered primary care and rural care environments. All core curricula are interprofessionally coauthored and cotaught.1


In 2015, OAA evaluators reviewed background documents and conducted open-ended interviews with 10 CoE staff, participating trainees, VA faculty, VA facility leadership, and affiliate faculty. In response to questions focused on their experiences, informants described lessons learned, challenges encountered, and benefits for participants, veterans, and the VA. Using a qualitative and quantitative approach, this case study draws on those interviews, surveys of PACT ICU (patient aligned care team interprofessional care update) participants, and analysis of presented patients to examine PACT ICU outcomes.

Related: Hypoglycemia Safety Initiative: Working With PACT Clinical Pharmacy Specialists to Individualize HbA1c Goals

Interprofessional Education and Care

A key CoEPCE aim is to create more clinical opportunities for CoE trainees from a variety of professions to work as a team in ways that anticipate and address the care needs of veterans. This emphasis on workplace learning is needed since most current health care professional education programs lack settings where trainees from different professions can learn and work together with their clinic partners to provide care for patients. With the emphasis on patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) and team-based care in the Affordable Care Act, there is an imperative to develop new training models that address this gap in the preparation of future health professionals. Along with this imperative, clinicians are increasingly required to optimize the health of complex patients who consequently require a multidisciplinary approach to care, particularly high-risk, high-needs patients inappropriately using services, such as frequent emergency department (ED) use.


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