As a society, we have gotten used to having access to the things we need, often instant access, thanks to technology and the digital revolution. Think of all of the services you deal with every day and all of the people you utilize to get through your week. What if the dry cleaner wasn’t open on Saturdays or the supermarket closed at 5 p.m. during the week? How would this limited access affect how you go about your daily lives?
Access is one of the major issues we face as we move into this new era of healthcare reform. And while many people still aren’t sure what healthcare reform or terms like medical home mean to them as individuals, they do know that they need access to care. Knowing that your usual source of healthcare (e.g. your primary care physician) is there for you and your family is of utmost importance, which is why extended hours and being able to make an appointment with your physician at 7:30 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. is so important.
At a recent Town Hall meeting, one of our colleagues explained to me how good her experience had been at a “medical care drop-in at a store” site (You know the company that I mean). I said, “It was fast,” and she said, “No, it was good. I didn’t say fast…” She was right, I said it was fast because I was trying to point out that if you’re given a choice of 1) not being seen at all because the physician or group who knows you is not available; 2) going and sitting in the waiting room of an Emergency Department for something that isn’t an emergency; or 3) going to a place where someone you don’t know will care for you quickly, of course you’ll go for the quick scenario. But isn’t it better to see a physician or a team member who actually knows you and has your medical records, as well as be seen expeditiously? That’s what we’re building and that’s what will make the new GBMC HealthCare system different. At the “medical care drop-in at a store” facility, it’s not about the patient. If it were about the patient, it would be a reliable source of ongoing, integrated care, not episodic care.
In this country, we do episodic pretty well, but for chronic disease, episodic care just doesn’t cut it. We need to build continuous, reliable, integrated, caring and connected care – it’s virtually impossible to be connected to a system or a provider that you don’t know and that doesn’t know you. I truly believe that what people want is the best possible health outcomes with the greatest patient experience and this can be achieved with integrated care and access. This is the direction we need to move in to address the overall wellness of our community for the future.
We are building good and fast!
We at GBMC must put all of our efforts into making a better healthcare system. It is also true however, that at some point individuals need to be better consumers. People will need to become better at looking out for their own health, and better at questioning the expected value of the care they are receiving.
What kind of healthcare consumer are you? Do you go for quick and easy or are you more concerned with receiving care from a provider with whom you have a relationship and who knows your medical history?