New Grant Funding Aims to Enhance Care for Patients in Rural Maine with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

May 30, 2017

The MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization and the Chronic Disease Program at the MaineHealth Center for Health Improvement are pleased to announce that Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s Quality Grants Program has awarded the ACO a one-year, $88,000 grant to build the capacity of primary care providers to diagnose and manage patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD refers to two long-term diseases that cause breathing problems, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It’s the third most common cause of death in the United States.

The project will create online learning modules on diagnosing and managing COPD in the primary care setting, develop a guideline for care and referral, and pilot the use of telehealth to give patients in a rural region access to specialty pulmonary services. Primary care providers from Western Maine Health in Norway and specialists from Chest Medicine Associates in South Portland have agreed to participate in the telehealth pilot.

“Building strong and lasting partnerships between primary and specialty care is central to the design of this project,” says Dr. Jeffrey Aalberg, the MaineHealth ACO’s chief medical officer. “We expect those partnerships to bring significant benefits to rural patients with COPD. Consults with specialists will be available to them locally using telehealth technology. And their primary care providers will learn the latest evidence-based protocols for treating COPD in the primary care setting.”

The development of every component of this project will involve both primary care providers and specialists. The MaineHealth Chronic Disease Program will provide day-to-day management with clinical, administrative and fiscal support from the MaineHealth ACO.


Media Contact:
Paul Santomenna
Senior Communications Manager
207-661-3806 | psantomenn@mainehealth.org