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As primary care practices engage in historic change to adopt and use electronic health records, become Patient-centered Medical Homes or part of Accountable Care Organizations, a practice coach or practice facilitator is increasingly recognized as necessary to support these transformations. These individuals may be leaders or managers within organizations or individuals external to the practices – but all are charged with helping to drive change.  Whether they are internal or external, these coaches must possess both effective change management skills and the ability to influence team members.


Change is hard — especially transformational change. To succeed, practices must manage the human dynamics of change in their organization.  Leadership and staff relationships change while doing the work of redesigning how care is delivered.  Developing resilience in the face of these complex technical, emotional and relational tasks is an essential skill.  To be effective, practice coaches have to address these human and organizational factors in addition to the technical changes in care delivery processes.   
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is pleased to offer a virtual professional development program known as The Primary Care Practice Coach Program, designed to support internal and external coaches working in primary care practices develop effectiveness in their role. This program will focus on the development of coaching, facilitation and change management skills as opposed to knowledge and skills in the technical areas of redesign content knowledge and quality improvement.


The program will start June 2012 and go through May 2013.  
The goal is for participants to increase their understanding of key concepts and methods essential for effective coaching. In addition, participants will have increased confidence with the concepts and methods as they think through application in their own case situations.
The concepts and methods include:


  • Diagnosing practice context relative to meeting the demands of change successfully
  • Understanding the human dynamics of change for organizations and individuals and types of skillful responses
  • Maintaining a results orientation while dealing with the human, technical, and organizational issues
  • Distinguishing between different types and strategies of coaching interventions such as training vs. consultation vs. coaching
  • Recognizing change management issues office practices face and possible methods of intervention
  • Managing self in the midst of complex emotions and relationships and developing a practice of peer consultation


This program will be most beneficial to individuals who:

  • Are currently coaching primary care practices in office practice redesign as internal change agents or external coaches
  • Have an established foundation in the basic content for office practice redesign and quality improvement, and have had some experience in applying this knowledge
  • Are active, self-directed learners

Individuals who can benefit could be in the following roles:

  • Practice coach or facilitator
  • Quality improvement advisor/consultant
  • Medical director or administrator in primary care
  • Administrators of coaching programs


Participants will receive:

  • A connected community of office practice coaches, working and learning together from June 2012 through May 2013
  • A resource-rich library of materials related to office practice improvement, quality improvement, and coaching practice
  • A Kick Off event and twice monthly phone calls providing an opportunity to learn together about concepts, tools, skills  and application in actual coaching situations brought by the participants
  • Individual action plans for development as a coach-utilizing the activities of the community, as well as self-directed personal development and learning



​Program Focus

Effective coaches play many different roles when facilitating change in a practice, including content expert, change agent, consultant, and quality improvement expert.  The program will focus on the skillful use of these roles, with an emphasis on how to tailor coaching interventions to the situation, manage the complex human side of change, and communicate effectively throughout the practice. 



Program Design

Participants will become part of a connected community of office practice coaches, supported by expert faculty, working and learning together from June 2012 through May 2013 through a variety of activities. These include a Kick-Off event, twice monthly conference calls to present content and explore ac participant coaching situations, parallel learning activities, ongoing discussions via listserv, and an Extranet for sharing resources.



Program Benefits

  • Increase ability to “see” practice dynamics and dynamics around human responses to change
  • Deepen understanding of different coaching interventions and the principles behind choosing interventions to be more effective
  • Practice applying new concepts and frameworks to coaching situations
  • Increased a understanding of the importance of, and strategies for coaches managing self in coaching situations