The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has named Portia Buchongo, Ph.D. ’23, a doctoral student in health services research in the UMD School of Public Health, as a Phyllis Torda Health Care Quality and Equity Fellow.
As part of her year-long fellowship, Buchongo, is working on an NCQA project to advance quality measures for integrating behavioral health in primary care settings.
“One thing our recent pandemic has shown is the need for behavioral health services is incredible,” she told NCQA. “Unfortunately, there are just not enough providers to meet the demand.”
Buchongo’s interest in health care quality began during her days as an intensive care nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center, where she helped create a team to prevent pressure ulcers in patients. That experience prompted her to explore more ways to improve health care quality and eventually make it the focus of her career.
Over the past decade, Buchongo completed fellowships at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She also worked at the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Along with her NCQA fellowship project, Buchongo is studying the relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic conditions and access to diabetes prevention strategies. Her vision: cross-sector partnerships between health systems, public health and community-based organizations that incorporate social supports in health care delivery. Buchongo is advised by Dr. Luisa Franzini, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management.
The Phyllis Torda Health Care Quality and Equity Fellowship is named in honor of Phyllis Torda, a former NCQA employee and an enthusiastic champion for change devoted to improving the nation’s health care system.