Christiana Care Health System’s primary care practices in southern New Jersey are part of the nation’s largest-ever program to improve access to primary care while lowering its cost.

Christiana Care primary care practices in Woodstown and Carney’s Point, which together serve more than 6,200 patients, are participating in Comprehensive Primary Care Plus. Typically called CPC+, this innovative program is a public-private partnership between the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and private insurers. Providers in CPC+ receive funding for enhanced, coordinated services.

David C. Bauman, M.D., who practices in Woodstown, said CPC+ will help his practice reach its patients in new ways. Possibilities include extended hours, telemedicine and home visits. In addition, patients may benefit from more comprehensive and individualized care. For example, CPC+ funds can support social workers, nutritionists and case managers.

“So many medical illnesses have psychosocial implications,” Dr. Bauman said. “To truly help our patients achieve optimal health, we need to address the whole patient.”

The strategic partnership helps Christiana Care to focus on achieving quality metrics, further improving access to care and easing transitions across health care settings, said Doug Azar, senior vice president, The Medical Group of Christiana Care.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to support primary care clinicians in their efforts to innovate toward more effective and affordable systems of care,” Azar said.

The program can also help doctors provide individualized, enhanced care for patients living with multiple chronic diseases.

“If we demonstrate improved outcomes, CPC+ provides incentives that we can reinvest in our practice so we can help patients even more,” said Craig B. Quiqley, M.D., who practices in Carney’s Point. “We are a home base for our patients, so success will generate more success and a healthier community.”

A primary care office can serve as a “home base” for patients like Michelle Peverelle, here with Craig B. Quiqley, M.D., of Christiana Care’s primary care practice in Carney’s Point, New Jersey.

Outcome measures tracked by CPC+ include falls prevention, wellness visits, smoking cessation rates, vaccination rates and blood pressure levels among patients with diabetes.

The first of two five-year CPC+ rounds started January 1 in some 2,900 primary care practices. Public and private health plans in 10 states and four regions are now participating. Delaware is not currently enrolled in the program.

Eligible primary care practices in each market were invited to apply to participate in the winter of 2016. Through a competitive application process, CMS selected primary care practices within the selected markets to participate in CPC+. Practices were chosen based on: their use of health information technology; ability to demonstrate recognition of advanced primary care delivery by leading clinical societies; service to patients covered by participating payer partners; participation in practice transformation and improvement activities; and diversity of geography, practice size and ownership structure.

The program also places requirements on participating clinics. For example, the practices in Woodstown and Carney’s Point have committed to increasing the number of non-traditional patient visits — such as over-the-phone or on video — in 2017.

The program’s insurance partners are hoping that in addition to advancements in quality of care, investing in primary care providers will save them money on costlier services, such as hospitalization and emergency room visits.

“This is a collaborative effort with great potential to improve the health of our communities,” Dr. Bauman said.

Christiana Care Health System operates 16 primary practices in Delaware, Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.