Problem: The Affordable Care Act charged the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to create the Primary Care Extension Program, but did not fund this effort. The idea to work through health extension agents to support health care delivery systems was based on the nationally known Cooperative Extension System (CES). Instead of creating new infrastructure in health care, the CES is an ideal vehicle for increasing health-related research and primary care delivery.
Approach: The CES, a long-standing component of the land-grant university system, features a sustained infrastructure for providing education to communities. The Michigan State University (MSU) Model of Health Extension offers another means of developing a National Primary Care Extension Program that is replicable in part because of the presence of the CES throughout the United States. A partnership between the MSU College of Human Medicine and MSU Extension formed in 2014, emphasizing the promotion and support of human health research. The MSU Model of Health Extension includes the following strategies: building partnerships, preparing MSU Extension educators for participation in research, increasing primary care patient referrals and enrollment in health programs, and exploring innovative funding.
Outcomes: Since the formation of the MSU Model of Health Extension, researchers and extension professionals have made 200+ connections, and grants have afforded savings in salary costs.
Next Steps: The MSU College of Human Medicine and MSU Extension partnership can serve as a model to promote health partnerships nationwide between CES services within land-grant universities and academic health centers or community-based medical schools.
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