Both organizations dedicated to improving health outcomes through innovation

BOSTON, May 5, 2015 — The Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care and Southcentral Foundation (SCF), an innovative Alaska Native health care organization based in Anchorage, Alaska announce the formation of a strategic partnership designed to foster collaborations in research, education and practice. Both organizations are committed to improving primary care delivery and creating new approaches to health and wellness.

The partnership will support the Center’s leadership development curriculum and programs for front-line primary care leaders, including physicians, other health care workers and staff. In addition to providing opportunities to study SCF’s Nuka System of Care, a relationship-based whole health care system that has measurably improved the health of the Alaska Native people while reducing costs, the partnership will offer leadership training and exchanges between the two organizations.

“We are thrilled to announce this partnership between SCF and the Center for Primary Care. Southcentral Foundation models the flexible, bold solutions that we need to solve our current crisis in primary care,” said Dr. Russ Phillips, director of the Center for Primary Care.

Through the partnership, Harvard Medical School students and Center faculty and staff will have the opportunity to participate in SCF’s Core Concepts training, a three-day session that teaches participants how to build effective relationships and better understand how others’ values, life experiences and relationships influence behavior. The course is the foundation on which SCF’s story-driven system of care is built. SCF also will participate in the Center’s InciteHealth initiative, which focuses on health care innovation and primary care redesign.

In 2013, Harvard became interested in the dramatically different approach Alaska Native people were taking with the delivery of health care in Alaska, which has improved health outcomes and resulted in higher customer and employee satisfaction, as well as reduced costs. For example, there has been a 23 percent decrease in ER/urgent care use and a 25 percent decrease in primary care visits from 2008 to 2015. SCF’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS), which measures performance on important dimensions of care and service of more than 90 percent of America’s health plans, exceeds the 90th percentile in board certification, diabetes care, tobacco screening and quit rates, and are in the 75th-90th percentile for screening rates for colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer and depression. In addition, 2014 customer and employee satisfaction rates were at 93 percent.

The Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care works to improve the health of communities through transformation in primary care practice and education. The Center recently profiled SCF’s Nuka System of Care in a case series that supports leadership development curriculum and programs for physicians, other healthcare workers and staff. The SCF cases focus on organization culture, leadership, governance, succession planning, teams, finance, sustainability and the integration of primary care with other health services and wellness programs. While creating the cases, the leaders of the two organizations were impressed by the alignment of goals between the two organizations and committed to work together to achieve those shared goals.

“Through this partnership, the exchange between Harvard and Southcentral Foundation will increase the knowledge of our primary care providers, Harvard students, and other health care professionals,” said SCF President/CEO Dr. Katherine Gottlieb. “We look forward to sharing our system’s foundations with them.”
Southcentral Foundation (SCF) is an Alaska Native health care organization established under the tribal authority of Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI) in 1982 to improve the health and social conditions of Alaska Native people. SCF has grown from a single dental clinic to an internationally recognized, award-winning health care organization employing over 1,800 people and managing more than 80 health care programs and services to serve 65,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people in Anchorage, Mat-Su Borough and 55 rural villages in the Anchorage Service Unit. Additionally, since 1999, SCF has jointly owned and managed the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. SCF’s Nuka System of Care has earned the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and other national and international recognitions for performance excellence and innovation. To learn more, visit