How is practice coaching a resource for ambulatory practice improvement?

AF4Q Alliances have developed practice coaching programs to support primary care practices' work in health care quality improvement.

In ARHQ’s Decision Brief: Primary Care Quality Improvement No. 1, the authors state that “primary care now has a significant, and perhaps unprecedented, opportunity to emphasize QI and practice redesign in ways that could fundamentally improve healthcare in the US. But to ensure that these efforts are successful, there is a need to build and sustain the ability of primary care practices to engage in QI activities in a continuous and effective way. [Developing] QI capacity involves a deep understanding of and commitment to QI beyond any particular project.” The fact that practice coaches play a key role in supporting and reinforcing the development of this QI capacity is now documented, and as a result, practice coaching programs are proliferating across the United States. The need to grow, refine, and sustain these programs is essential to supporting primary care practices during this time of unprecedented opportunity.  

Over the past three years, nine of our 16 AF4Q Alliances have developed practice coaching programs to support primary care practices in reaching defined goals and outcomes related to chronic illness care, access and efficiency, preventive services, self-management support, and care transitions while building these practices’ internal capacity to build QI into their daily work.  In 2009, the Practice Coaching Program Affinity Group was convened, facilitated by the Improving Performance in Practice (IPIP) Technical Support Team. Over the past 3 years there has been a robust exchange of knowledge, tools, and resources, including access to national experts in this growing field. The 12 Essential Questions to Run an Effective Practice Coaching Program have been designed to provide the AF4Q community and those interested in this topic answers to the key questions regarding building and sustaining a practice coaching program.  The Dig Deeper section provides links to articles, tools, presentations, and other resources that were developed as part of this vibrant learning network. Several of these Alliances developed sophisticated tools that they have generously agreed to make available free of charge. Please feel free to access these tools and resources. Also included in the dig deeper section are other resources pertaining to practice coaches, including a number of the Agency for Healthcare Quality’s recent publications.  These are all available on the AF4Q website,

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