UF ‘Ped-I-Care’ nationally recognized for innovation in improving community health

The University of Florida Pediatric Integrated Care System, also known as Ped-I-Care, is this year’s winner of the prestigious Fred Graham award for Innovation in Improving Community Health presented at the 2011 Medical Group Management Association annual meeting in Las Vegas.

Ped-I-Care provides health coverage in 23 Florida counties for children with special health care needs from low-income families. The award from MGMA in conjunction with the American College of Medical Practice Executives recognizes the medical group practice that has developed the most creative and innovative ways to advance health care delivery and improve community health. Ped-I-Care was recognized for its unparalleled customer satisfaction, exceptionally high quality indicators and simultaneous cost reductions.

In the wake of health care reform implementation, the successes of the program have both state and national implications, organizers say.

“Much of the success of the organization must go to (Executive Director) Nancy Giunta,” said Richard Bucciarelli, M.D., chairman of UF’s department of pediatrics. “She deserves much of the credit for keeping us focused and for the tremendous results we have seen.”

Giunta, M.H.A., who is a fellow of the American College of Medical Practice Executives, said she was very excited when she heard the organization had won and added, “On a personal level I was even more thrilled, as Fred Graham was a longtime friend of mine.”

Graham, Ph.D., served as senior vice president of MGMA, ACMPE and the MGMA Center for Research for 25 years.

Giunta also gave kudos to John Nackashi, M.D., founding medical director, as well as Bucciarelli, who led the organization through its initial organization and subsequent implementation and management.

“When the Child Health Insurance Program was offered to the states by the federal government and no one stepped up in our region, Bucciarelli said, ‘These are our kids and we need to take care of them.’ Under Bucciarelli’s leadership, the UF department of Pediatrics created Ped-I-Care,” Giunta said.

One of the reasons Ped-I-Care is believed to be successful is because it has embraced the idea of the “Primary Care Medical Home.” It operates under contact with Children’s Medical Services, a division of the Florida Department of Health. Each member is assigned a nurse care coordinator who helps families manage the numerous doctors’ visits, medical treatments and logistical necessities that are involved in caring for a child with special needs.

“These nurse care coordinators work hard to keep up with the families,” Giunta said. “They make initial contact and establish a relationship. Families learn that they can call their care coordinator for almost anything and in this way, they stay connected. One of the key aspects of achieving our goals rests in communication between specialists and primary care, no matter who the patient is. Coordination of care is vital to our success and we work on it all the time. While it is one of our biggest successes, it is also one of our biggest challenges.”

Bucciarelli concurred, adding, “We use care coordinators not only to save costs but to improve care for the kids.”

The organization was presented the award at a banquet for 7,500 at a conference of a reported 15,000. In previous years the award has gone to Mercy Health Systems of Wisconsin, among others.

For more information contact Giunta at 352- 334-1678.


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John Pastor

UF&Shands Communications

John Pastor oversees News & Publications for UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center. He and his team tell the stories surrounding the research, education and patient care activities...Read More