UNM HSC’s Health Extension Rural Offices (HEROs) Program has received a $220,000 grant from the Commonwealth Fund, to begin disseminating its nationally recognized program for improving the quality of primary care and community health.

“New Mexico’s Health Extension Rural Offices model served to inform the Health Extension portion of the Affordable Care Act,” said Art Kaufman, MD, Vice Chancellor for Community Health at the UNM Health Sciences Center and principal investigator for the grant. “This project will allow other states to use this model to achieve the goals of health care reform: moving our health care system toward one that provides accessible, efficient, and patient-centered care to all Americans.”

The funds will allow HEROs to being working with counterparts in the states of Illinois, Oregon, Kansas and Kentucky. Grant funds will be used to develop an on-line modular Health Extension Toolkit and Webinar developed by HERO Coordinators and Agents, and then pilot test the modules in the field.

According to the Fund’s description of the project, “New Mexico’s nationally recognized Health Extension Rural Offices enable independent primary care practices in the state to share clinical resources and receive technical assistance in becoming patient-centered medical homes. These extension centers provide onsite coaching on quality improvement, connect practices with specialists to co-manage complex patients, link patients to off-hours nurse triage services, and provide other resources small practices lack.”

Primary care practices, especially those unaffiliated with larger systems, need assistance in becoming Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs). HEROs is collaborating with LCF Research that has a federal grant to provide public, non-profit and private primary care practices with assistance in adopting Electronic Health Records and achieving their meaningful use. HEROs is working with partners in helping practices achieve the rest of practice transformation to PCMHs.

One strategy employed by HEROs is to package and make readily accessible ‘shared resources’ -- these are resources which could be shared by practices statewide or regionally that no one individual practice could afford to develop. These include such resources as practice coaching, telehealth, affordable locum tenens, assistance of community health workers for complex medical/social problems among patients and electronic decision-support resources from the health sciences library.


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322