Nicole Banister ’06, FACHE, Director Comprehensive Primary Care Plus, TMF Health Quality Institute
According to Nicole Banister ’06, FACHE, her interest in health care began with food. As a competitive, nationally ranked synchronized swimmer in high school, she “recognized very early the connection between nutrition and sports performance.” Prior to entering Trinity’s HCAD program, Nicole earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from TCU and passed the Boards to become a registered dietitian.
Although she maintains her interest in good nutrition, Nicole’s residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore led to a wider variety of roles within the health care industry, including specialty care, medical practice management, and now delivery innovation. Following a stint as division director of Cardiac Surgery at Johns Hopkins, Nicole returned to Texas in 2009 where she managed a medical group practice that included seven ophthalmologists with multiple locations along with a surgery center and a retail optical business. In 2010, she returned to cardiac service work as the first director of the regional heart health program at Seton’s Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. During her two-year tenure there, she opened the first Extracorporeal Life Support (ECMO) program in Texas, increased surgical case volume and improved clinical outcomes.
Nicole continued with the Seton system as a consultant in strategic planning and business development. With the ACA’s emphasis on value over volume-based care, she began focusing on care redesign. Four years ago, TMF Health Quality Institute recruited her to join the team working on a Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) model. Funded by the ACA, the four-year model tested innovative approaches to improving primary care at 500 primary care practices across the U.S. Based on lessons learned, that model has changed, but the excellent work by Nicole and her team led to TMF being selected to serve as a Region Learning Network contractor for CPC Plus. As a Regional Learning Network contractor, TMF guides practices in transforming their workflow and meeting model goals. The largest initiative of its kind, CPC Plus includes 3,000 primary care practices and more than 60 commercial payers across 18 regions of the U.S. The practices receive financial support from CMS as well as commercial payers in their regions to test different approaches to delivery. TMF also provides subject matter expertise as well as opportunities for peer-to-peer sharing within the local regions.
As TMF’s director of CPC Plus, Nicole oversees this vast program and monitors data to ensure practices are indeed improving quality, patient engagement, cost, and utilization. Although based in Austin, Nicole leads a team that is spread across the country. Her Monday staff meetings include key members across five time zones. Undaunted by the depth and breadth of CPC Plus, Nicole says simply, “I like being part of a team testing new and innovative ways to deliver health care.” She remains connected to the Trinity HCAD alumni network in Austin and appreciates being able to reach out to HCAD professors Ed Schumacher, Mary Stefl, and Amer Kaissi for resources and help in identifying staff for positions on her team. “They have been a valuable source of support and encouragement,” she notes.
Outside of work, Nicole and her husband and their two school-aged daughters enjoy camping and outdoor activities. During a month-long road trip across the western U.S. last summer, the family visited five national parks. A runner, she and her husband and six friends compete annually in an overnight trail running race. Last year, they won first place. Having been a Girl Scout leader for three years and currently leading a Brownie troop, Nicole relishes the opportunity this affords her to spend time with her daughters and their friends. Such engagement also allows her to serve as a role model, provide opportunities for building confidence and leadership skills, and introduce the girls to STEM subjects.
As for her role in the health care industry, Nicole says, “I want to see change in our health care system that results in reduced spending and improved quality of care. I believe the framework for CPC Plus is part of that ultimate goal.”
Words by Mary Denny