Research at the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care

The global demands on primary care and health care systems call for innovative approaches to teamwork, culture, financing, and technology such that care delivery can better cultivate patient and physician satisfaction.

While primary care leaders and practices have been chronicled in many venues, readers are limited to learning what these leaders or practices are doing, not how they operate. The Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care seeks to fill this critical knowledge gap by profiling exemplary practices, systems, and models in order to address how they operate and defy systemic challenges to deliver high performing primary care.

As part of an effort to understand how primary care is delivered, we developed an original research program featuring case studies on high performing and innovative primary care systems. These case studies aim to create and disseminate knowledge about best practices in primary care, explicate how to best structure primary care delivery and identify how systems have organized themselves to mitigate contemporary challenges including population health management, high cost, and poor patient and physician experience.

The cases in the primary care systems case collection are used to train medical students as well as primary care and interprofessional health staff, practitioners and leaders. The Center uses our case collection in our HMS elective, Physician as Leader, and in our recurring continuing medical education programs which cater to a global audience of interdisciplinary health professionals and leaders. The cases are also appropriate for public health or management audiences seeking to better understand primary care and its fundamental challenges.

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Center Publications

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Advancing Teams Program Case Studies

The Advancing Teams in Community Health Program (ATP) is a partnership between the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care. It was designed to create a strong and sustainable foundation for the medical home model of care in community health centers (CHCs) in Massachusetts’ medically underserved communities.  Funded by a Primary Care Training and Enhancement grant from the Health and Human Resources Services Administration, the ATP leverages team-based care, supportive leadership, patient partner engagement and a robust improvement infrastructure to strengthen care coordination, improve patient outcomes, and increase provider, staff, and trainee satisfaction. 
Download the Advancing Teams Case Studies

Lynn Community Health Center Case
Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC), located in Lynn, Massachusetts, joined the first cohort of the Advancing Teams Program with a project focused on integrating mental health and primary care. LCHC aimed to build a program where an integrated family medicine team could address primary care, obstetrics and gynecology, mental health, and complex addictions all in one place. This case documents their experience throughout the ten-month Advancing Teams Program.
Download the Lynn Community Health Center Case Study

DotHouse Health Case
DotHouse Health (DotHouse), located in Dorchester, Massachusetts, joined the second cohort of the Advancing Teams Program with a project focused on increasing screening for Social Determinants of Health, particularly with regards to homelessness. DotHouse aimed to have a care plan in place for 90% of patients seen in Family Medicine, Adult Medicine and Pediatrics who had homelessness charted in their problem list. This case documents their experience throughout the ten-month Advancing Teams Program.
Download the DotHouse Case Study

East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Case
In 1970, the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) was launched to provide quality health care for its predominantly immigrant and economically disadvantaged population. Since its establishment, EBNHC has been steadily increasing patient load and expanding their services in order to meet demand. EBNHC’s mission is to provide easily accessible, affordable, coordinated and personalized quality health care for all who reside and work in East Boston, as well as the surrounding communities, regardless of age, income, language, culture, insurance status, or social circumstances. With diabetes being a prominent issue in the community, a team within EBNHC’s Department of Family Medicine participated in the Advancing Teams Program with the aim of decreasing the percentage of patients with uncontrolled diabetes in their clinic 
(defined as having an A1C over 9) and improving the screen rate for Diabetic patients who did not have an up to date A1C.  

Download the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Case Study

Daniel Driscoll Neponset Health Center Case
Daniel Driscoll Neponset Health Center (Neponset) serves the residents of Dorchester and surrounding communities, providing exceptional, accessible, and affordable health care. As a branch of Harbor Health, Neponset Health Center values Innovation, Community Responsiveness, Diversity, and Quality. Within the pillar of Innovation, Neponset Health Center certainly exhibits the role of “pioneers in community health” as the team completed ATP with a project designed to develop a more safe and effective pain management regimen while decreasing overall opioid use.
Download the Daniel Driscoll Neponset Health Center Case Study

South End Community Health Center Case
South End Community Health Center (SECHC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center for residents of Boston's South End and the surrounding communities. With a mission “to provide the highest quality, culturally and linguistically sensitive, coordinated health care and social services to every patient regardless of their ability to pay,” SECHC is committed to adapting their services to fulfill patient needs. Due to this mission and commitment to providing interdisciplinary care to complex patients, SECHC participated in the first cohort of the ATP program with a project that aimed to improve high risk patient care through the redesign of high risk case review and implementation of high-risk rounds.
Download the South End Community Health Center Case Study


Questions? Please email Kathleen Dwiel at