September 28, 2017

Hello MaineHealth ACO Participants,
My mother turned 80 last weekend. After months of hearing, "I don't want to do anything elaborate, no big trip, no expensive event, no slideshow," my siblings and I settled on inviting the neighborhood by for "Coffee and Doughnuts with Leslie." Well, who knew the entire town would turn out on a brilliant, sunny Sunday morning for coffee and doughnuts with neighbors, friends and family to celebrate my mom.  

The network of relationships, support, and shared caring was almost palpable. While the kitchen was filled in the moment with admiration for my mom, there was also the sense that the underpinnings of this caring was a community of individuals that have a lasting and active interest in one another's lives. Each of these neighbors share and rely on a culture and tradition in which they celebrate happy moments communally and hold each other up in devastating, sad moments. Together, a community makes the impossible possible, suppresses the slide to isolation, and invites opportunity. 

Deep connections reap tremendous benefits in our personal and social lives, and they can in our professional lives as well. Strong and lasting connections at work can help banish professional isolation, open up opportunities for growth, and diminish obstacles to success. 

It is for this reason that one of the most important parts of my job is connecting with, and talking to, providers.  As Jeff, Jen and I have made "ACO Rounds" presentations throughout our medical neighborhood, we are humbled by your stories, your challenges, and your passion for delivering better health care.  I am also respectful of the fact that with the ACO growing to include more than 1,500 providers, it's not possible for us to reach everyone.  We need more than two or three people making the rounds.  

You may recall that last February we introduced the concept to you of an ACO Physician Liaison Officer and asked you if you might be interested in adopting this role. The response was overwhelming, and we had a very high caliber pool of physician applicants. In close collaboration with the providers on the Physician Engagement and Alignment Committee (PEAC) and MaineHealth CMO Dr. Joan Boomsma, and with a thorough interview process, we decided to create four physician liaison positions and connect each of the liaisons to specific regions across our ACO. Today, I am immensely pleased to announce the results of our search for ACO Physician Liaison Officers to join the ACO in our quest to connect, respond to your needs, and solidify a consistent pathway of communication between the ACO and providers. 

Financial support for the ACO Physician Liaison Officers comes from the " CPM Fund," legacy funds from the former Community Physicians of Maine earmarked for physician engagement, community, enrichment, and education. The liaisons are all practicing physicians, working in diverse settings, and have agreed to dedicate one to two days per week to this important work.  It's my honor and privilege to introduce you to them:
  • Dr. Mike Clark has been serving as our initial liaison since January 2017. Mike is a family medicine doctor and the owner and lead provider at Lifespan Family Healthcare in Newcastle. He is a board member of the MaineHealth ACO as well as chair of PEAC.  As his fellow liaisons come on board, Mike will focus on serving independent primary care providers and those affiliated with Coastal Health Alliance and Lincoln Health. Mike grew up in Maine, ventured to California for medical training, served as a U.S. Air Force flight surgeon and returned home to practice community-based medicine in the place he knows and loves the best.
  • Dr. Julie Grosvenor is an orthopedic surgeon with Southern Maine Health Care as well as its Associate CMO and Quality Safety Officer for Orthopedics. Julie will work most closely with independent specialists and providers affiliated with SMMC and Memorial Hospital. Julie is passionate about finding efficient and satisfying ways for physicians to communicate and connect in our increasingly siloed practice environments. Her training as a physician leader - from both the MaineHealth Physician Development Fellowship Program and the Hanley Center's Physician Executive Leadership Institute Advanced Program - will be a wonderful asset for the ACO and our participants
  • Dr. Tom Pulling practices family medicine and sports medicine at Franklin Community Health Network in Farmington. A native Minnesotan, Tom began his career as an Air Force aerospace engineer responsible for the improvement of safety, reliability and cost-effectiveness of a fleet of 500 aircraft. He first practiced primary care in a large multi-specialty practice in Minneapolis before coming to Maine Medical Center to do a fellowship in Sports Medicine.  In addition to his clinical role, Tom serves as physician leader for implementation of the Epic EHR at 13 practice sites. Tom will work with providers affiliated with Franklin, Western Maine and St. Mary's.
  • Dr. Joel Wirth is a pulmonary and critical care physician with a practice at Chest Medicine Associates and also serves as the Director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Maine Medical Center. Joel is an energetic member of the MaineHealth COPD Working Group, a MMCRI faculty member and an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Tufts University Medical School. Joel is a forceful advocate for a more active role of patients in health care, including jointly designing care services and actively self-managing their own care. Joel will be the lead liaison for providers at MMC, MMP and Midcoast.
I'm particularly pleased that together, Mike, Julie, Tom and Joel represent the enormous diversity of the ACO participants, which span multiple specialties, practice ownership models, and geographies. What a great resource for all of us, no matter how or where we practice.

Over the next few months, we will be onboarding our liaisons and getting them out to meet you.  In fact, I hope you will join us at upcoming Listening Dinners - intimate regional gatherings to foster in-depth discussion.  Our first dinner was held earlier this month at 40 Paper in Camden and featured lively and thoughtful conversation. The next Listening Dinner will happen at The Homestead in Farmington on December 7 th. Additional dinners are slated to happen quarterly in regions across Maine, so please be on the lookout for emailed invitations to the dinner near you.

You probably won't see doughnuts at these gatherings, or have my mom in attendance, but the spirit of community that animated her birthday breakfast will certainly be with us. I look forward to continuing to allow for opportunities to bring us together in community, conversation, and creativity.  
Yours in health,
Elizabeth Johnson, MD, MS
President & Chief Executive Officer
MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization |  (207) 482-7050