At this stage, anyone who tells you they know exactly how health care reform is going to affect physicians and the people they care for is either making it up or is a time traveler returning from the future. What can be communicated with relatively certainty, however, is that there is some good news about an innovative and improved way to deliver primary care called the Medical Home.
Medical Home…Patient-Centered Medical Home…Health Care Home…Medical Community…Personal Care Team…you may hear it called by a variety of names, but the concept is the same and it has the capability to strengthen the relationship between patients and physicians, increase satisfaction for everyone involved in the care process and create better health outcomes for patients.
Despite the name, the Medical Home is not a specific physical location (although your primary care physician’s office figures prominently), but rather a new approach to primary care medicine. Maybe the best way to think about the Medical Home is to envision it as hub around which your care revolves.
On the most basic level, the Medical Home provides a more patient-focused model of care; a shared decision making process that makes each patient an important member of the care team; facilitated access to specialty care as well as medical facilities; a collaborative team of care providers who are accountable for your health at every stage of your life; a coordinated approach to managing chronic conditions; the use of leading-edge information technology to improve communications between health care providers and between the care team and patients; and a strong focus on wellness and preventive care.
It also offers some features that hold the promise to improve the quality and the efficiency of care, as well as its cost:
More “Quality Time” With the Patient
Primary care medicine has traditionally revolved around a physician being at the center of the care process and has generally involved doctors handling a wide range of responsibilities, including non-clinical duties. The medical home relies on a team care model that the physician leads and directs but isn’t required to be the “go-to” person for everything that takes place in the physician office encounter and in follow-up care.
By having other skilled and experienced health professionals, including nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants and case managers take on additional responsibilities, the doctor can spend more time with each patient in the exam room.
Along with strengthening the patient-doctor bond, the overall result is more personalized care. Freeing up the physician’s time to concentrate on direct patient care and treatment also means that most patients who need them can get same day appointments – avoiding emergency rooms – when there’s a health concern that may require faster attention.
Smoothing Out the Transitions
One of the most important and critical times in health care takes place during the “hand-offs” between different physicians and different levels of care. These times include referrals to a specialist, the need for hospitalization, possible movement from one health care facility to another, home health care and even access to community services.
Through its coordinated team-based approach, the Medical Home makes a major contribution to continuity of care by helping to guide patients through every step of the sometimes complex care and treatment experience. By staying closer during care transitions, and by relying on an accurate, easy-to-share electronic medical record, the Medical Home team can follow patients even more closely in a way that improves the care process while also reducing potential stress on the part of patients and families.
Adding a Very Personal Touch
Access to a Medical Home and a Personal Care Team at Riverside also brings with it an additional benefit for patients and families … the Riverside Care Difference.
Every member of the entire Riverside team commits to putting our patients and customers at the heart of all we do. The Riverside Care Difference, which is built into the Medical Home, is an ongoing commitment to provide you with the best care possible. In keeping with the Riverside Mission, it’s a pledge to care for others as we would care for those we love, to enhance their well-being and improve their health.
Already Here or Coming Soon
Although the Medical Home concept of team-based and more coordinated care has been around for a number of years and has been used in some areas already, its wider adoption will be enhanced by various provisions of health care reform. Unlike other aspects of our health care system that are phased in over time, you can expect the Medical Home to be and important part of your life and your health already or in the near future.
To be a part of a Riverside Personal Health Team close to you, please see our ad on page 84.