MSUToday
Published: May 31, 2017

MSU develops model partnership to improve nationwide primary patient care

Contact(s): Eileen Gianiodis Agriculture and Natural Resources office: (517) 432-1555, ext. 230 cell: (517) 242-4753 gianiod1@msu.edu

A partnership at Michigan State University between the College of Human Medicine and MSU Extension is serving as a model of how land-grant universities can collaborate with medical schools to increase health research and strengthen primary care delivery.

Current health care policy emphasizes the need for communities and institutions to work together to address the nation’s complex health problems. Health extension is a national movement to find strategies that link patients of clinical and primary care practices with community resources, such as education, to improve their health.

The MSU Model of Health Extension, recently featured in the journal Academic Medicine, provides a blueprint that can establish a nationwide health extension framework.

Jeff Dwyer, director of MSU Extension and former MSU College of Human Medicine senior associate dean, developed the model. It could potentially connect scientists and establish partnerships with more than 800 community organization representatives who are seeking to improve the health of Michigan residents.

“This creates a framework for partnerships that enhance health care delivery and education throughout the state,” Dwyer said. “Cooperative Extension staff members are equipped to make these connections because they have built trust, experience and history in the communities where they work, live and raise their families.”

In addition to building partnerships, the model emphasizes preparing MSU Extension to increase research capacity, primary care patient referrals and enrollment in extension health education programs, and to explore innovative funding opportunities.

The model includes annual “speed meeting” events that explore the potential of using existing extension programs as interventions in research projects. Additionally, the model includes workshops to help educators partner with researchers and contribute to competitive grant proposals.

A third strategy of the model, “Rx for Health,” is a tool that health care providers can use to refer their patients to local extension health education programs. Health care providers can make recommendations from 10 categories, such as diabetes, stress and obesity.

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