High Plains Community Health Center—Redesign Expands Medical Assistant Roles


Lisel Blash, Catherine Dower, Susan A. Chapman

Nov 2010

High Plains Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center in Colorado, redesigned its workflow to increase productivity by increasing the number of support staff per provider. Medical Assistants (MAs) are cross-trained to rotate through front and back office roles in a team-based model. MAs are given a number of opportunities for training and advancement within the MA role, and may advance to positions such as Health Coach, Patient Navigator and Community Health Worker. This initiative not only increased productivity but produced cost-savings for the organization as well as a number of other beneficial outcomes for patients and staff.

This 2014 summary updates the original 2010 case study with new information on staffing, clinical outcomes, reimbursement, and more. 

Innovative Workforce Models of Health Care is a series of case studies showcasing primary care practices that are expanding the roles of medical assistants and other frontline workers in innovative ways. The organizations selected are implementing practice models that improve organizational viability and quality of care for patients while providing career development opportunities to frontline employees. This research is supported by the The Hitachi Foundation as part of its Pioneer Employers Initiative.