Message from the President

The PPOC commemorated its 20th anniversary with an evening of 'Memories, Membership and Milestones' in October. We celebrated with PPOC members, some of their staffs, Board members, and close colleagues from Boston Children's Hospital. I'd like to share some of the remarks I made during the event.

I'll start with thanks. It's not possible to thank everyone involved in the success of the PPOC over last two decades, but gratitude has always been part of our culture, so I'll do my best. Firstly, I want to thank the members of the PPOC for the privilege of serving you and your patients for the last twelve years. I have an incredibly rewarding, interesting and inspiring job supporting your hard work to achieve our mission. I want to thank those who helped found the PPOC - Dr. Mike Grady, our first CEO, who couldn't have succeeded without the support of Sandi Fenwick, Jim Mandell, Dr. Gary Fleisher, Paul Hickey and so many other leaders from the Physicians' Organization and the Hospital. They ensured our financial stability, but more importantly, helped the fledgling PPOC by sharing their wisdom and insights. Of course, through the years, most of our progress has been due to the talent and the energy contributed by our members. So many of you have served on our board, on committees, attending meetings, emailing and calling - all to ensure that we collectively benefit from the incredible talent present in the network. Our colleagues who work at our offices and at Children's have also been critical to our success - managers and administrators, nurses, psychologists, social workers and other clinical professionals--attorneys, technology experts, data scientists and analysts, finance professionals and contracting staff have all made major contributions.

I want to make a few observations about our recent history. I'll follow that with some thoughts about what that story tells us about our future. Shortly after taking the helm, I met with Jim Mandell, the Children's CEO at the time. We began by describing our mission, without which it would have been impossible to create a strategy for success. Fortunately, it didn't take long to bring people together around three central ideas:

  • Enabling better care of children,
  • Enhancing our members' professional satisfaction and,
  • Partnering with Children's and our colleagues in the PO.

That mission has never varied, and I believe that it's even more pertinent than it was a decade ago. It's our north star, and it's shining as brightly as ever!

In the past decade, the pace of change has been challenging. We embraced the concept of the Patient Centered Medical Home. We've also had two EHR transitions in the journey from the world of paper to a modern, data-driven profession enabled by information technology. We also know that journey hasn't ended yet! We've knit our clinical work together with that of specialists at Children's - making major investments of ours and the PO's resources to achieve the third part of our mission. The result of that collaboration includes our learning communities, a very productive research partnership, and specialists who are available within minutes for phone consultation. We've transitioned from contracts that pay for reputation, to being paid for clinical performance, to risk agreements that now measure both clinical quality and the cost of care. We've redefined primary care to embrace all aspects of our patients' health, taking on new work in behavioral health and even starting to address the social determinants of health.

Along with the challenges of all this change have come many moments of which to be proud. I want to emphasize that the most important achievements happen every day in our offices - watching as the burden of anxiety on a teen's life is lifted by our integrated behavioral health care; seeing struggling families helped by our regional support teams; watching an increasing number of cancers prevented by the impact of our HPV challenge; and giving families the answers they're so desperate for when we call the specialist of the week and quickly get seriously ill children to higher level care. Here are some additional highlights we can be proud of:

  • PPOC members and staff presenting our work at national professional society meetings;
  • Numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, including Pediatrics and the New England Journal of Medicine;
  • Our partnership with BCH and the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction (ASAP) program to bring substance use and addiction treatment to the medical home;
  • Embracing Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant colleagues as members of the organization;
  • We've had teams travel from other parts of the country to learn about our PCMH and Integrated BH programs; and
  • We now include members from all over the Commonwealth and are about five times our previous size, caring for people from North Adams to Nantucket.

We are relentlessly focused on our mission and we live the term "continuous improvement." We embrace, rather than resist change, and we do not believe that pediatric care has peaked yet. We look forward to a future filled with new ways to do more for families. We recognize that our society is challenged by a health system that is extraordinarily expensive and has a huge potential to do more and we are addressing those issues. Rather than being part of the problem, we are part of the solution.

What does this mean for our future? Health care delivery, public policy, medical science and technology are all changing at an exponential rate. We have built an organization that has all the attributes necessary to excel over the next twenty years. We have a clear and compelling mission. We embrace the pace of change and we see it as more of an opportunity than a threat. I know we will be successful.

Cheers to 20 years of Memories, Membership and Milestones!

The PPOC is one of the largest pediatric primary care physician organizations in the country, with more than 360 pediatric primary care physicians, 130 nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and 75 integrated behavioral health clinicians, working in community-based practices in 105 locations throughout Massachusetts.

The PPOC network has spotlighted the need for all of us to strive for 'better.' To provide better communication, better patient engagement, better staff training, and most importantly to deliver the best care possible to our patients.

Julianne Nemes Walsh, DNP, PNP-BC
Bridgewater Pediatrics