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UTHSC Awarded Grant to Help Primary Care Practices in West Tennessee Hire Health Coaches


The University of Tennessee Health Science Center has received a $40,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare to help West Tennessee primary care practices in UTHSC’s Tennessee Heart Health Network hire, train, and deploy health coaches. UnitedHealthcare proudly partners with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to strengthen primary care to ensure that every Tennessean has access to the services they need to live a healthier life. The funds will be dispersed to three participating practices in the form of $12,000 awards.

The Tennessee Heart Health Network (TN-HHN), begun in 2021 and funded by a $4.5 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), includes more than 70 primary care practices across the state. These participating clinics have pledged to add health coaching, text messaging, and/or pharmacist-physician collaboration services for their patients. All three services have been proven to help people do better at healthy eating, physical activity, and stopping smoking – all aimed at improving heart health across the state.

Dr. James Bailey

“These grants give West Tennessee primary care practices a tremendous opportunity to expand their teams to deliver more of the population health services people in our region need most,” said James E. Bailey, MD, MPH, FACP, TN-HHN, principal investigator and executive director of the Tennessee Population Health Consortium at UTHSC.

Tennessee ranks third in the United States in cardiovascular events, sixth in deaths from cardiovascular disease, and fifth in deaths from stroke. This disproportionate burden of heart attacks and stroke stems from high rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension among Tennesseans, which in turn, are caused by consumption of high-calorie processed food, inadequate physical activity, and tobacco use. In addressing this health challenge, TN-HHN is partnering with health systems and independent practices, as well as leading Tennessee health plans, health professional organizations, and advocacy organizations. The primary partner is Qsource, a nonprofit health care quality improvement organization working with participating practices. TN-HHN is the signature initiative for the Tennessee Population Health Consortium at UTHSC.

TN-HHN will be accepting applications for the awards from qualified practices that have committed to adding health coaching services. The three $12,000 grants are expressly for the purpose of helping support the onboarding of new full-time health coaches in primary care practices serving medically underserved areas in West Tennessee. Access the form here and complete the form and return to info@tnhearthealth.org by November 1.

For more information about the TN-HHN please visit the webpage. To learn more about the proven approaches primary care practices are using to improve the health of Tennesseans through the TN-HHN see the Health Coaching, Heart Health Messaging, and Pharmacist-Physician Collaboration Toolkits.