Primary Care Institute

A Message from George Topalsky, MD

The University Hospitals Primary Care Institute was created in January 2015 and has developed a regional leadership structure to quickly improve communication across our large provider network. Our advisory group consists of 18 regional Medical Directors who meet monthly to discuss important issues and make decisions regarding high-quality patient care.  

Our mission is this: To support UH primary care providers in delivering the highest-quality, valuable and most accessible care to achieve exceptionally satisfying provider-patient relationships.

We have created three important quality-related committees whose work is designed to fulfill our mission. 

The clinical effectiveness committee is developing care pathways for chronic disease management to promote consistency in our high-quality care and to create efficiency in documentation (through the UHCare Ambulatory EMR template) related to these chronic diseases. 

The patient-centered medical home committee is implementing the medical home model in two pilot practices to help achieve improvements in patient experience, staff and physician engagement and improved health status of patients

The patient experience committee’s goal is to improve patient experience through educational plans for all UH Primary Care Institute staff, and by setting expected institute standards of communication with our patients.

Education is a key element of the UH Primary Care Institute, so we also are involving providers in medical student and resident physician education. 

We have several providers involved in medical student or resident physician education. Dr. Alan Wiggers and Dr. Rob Truax are on faculty at the newly opened Cleveland campus of the Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine. Dr. Gabrielle Koczub, Dr. Crystal Lance DeGeorge and Dr. Babak Moini are providing direct, formal resident physician education through on-site precepting and didactic teaching at UH Cleveland Medical Center and the regional osteopathic programs of UH Richmond and Bedford medical centers.

We also emphasize the continuing education of our providers. The inaugural UH Primary Care Institute Symposium, “A Focus on Wellness,” delivered excellent CME content regarding disease screening.  Some attendees commented that it was “the best CME event I have ever attended.” This will be an annual event with various primary care-related topics. 

We also have created a unique program for creating “primary care specialists” within the UH Primary Care Institute. In partnership and under the direction of the UH Neurology Institute and the newly formed Traumatic Brain Injury Center, 20 UH primary care providers attended a free CME seminar that allowed them to be certified by the UH Neurological and Primary Care Institutes as recognized concussion care specialists for primary management of patients with traumatic brain injury.

We will soon be developing more programs with specialty partners. This allows both external and internal referral opportunities for practice growth and professional development in clinical areas of special interest.

The UH Primary Care Institute starts with a “patient first” approach and incorporates an interactive culture of teamwork, trustworthiness and transparency. It is with these values that our institute will be successful achieving our mission. 

One of the most important drivers of patient loyalty is access and convenience of care. The UH Primary Care Institute is implementing several strategies to improve access. The most significant is adopting the use of ZocDoc for online and application-based scheduling with our providers. ZocDoc is a free service to patients that helps them to find a local doctor who accepts their insurance. Patients can then see the doctor’s real-time availability and instantly book an appointment online via or its mobile apps. Patients can ?nd the right doctor for their needs by searching by insurance, specialty, location, gender or languages spoken. They can see veri?ed reviews, doctor quali?cations and photos of the doctors and their facilities. ZocDoc also allows current patients to obtain appointments with ease and enables our providers’ schedules to be efficiently filled. 

The need for improved access is clear – consumers want convenience, and they don’t want to fight to get an appointment. Improved access also results in better clinical outcomes. So, the easier we make it for patients to do business with us, the more patients we will attract and retain. By participating in the ZocDoc marketplace, we will be positioned to attract consumers in our market who are looking to form new provider relationships.

We appreciate your support in this initiative as we put patients first and improve access to our health system.

George Topalsky, MD

George Topalsky, MD
Vice President, UH Primary Care Institute