Many of us have experienced a situation like this before: you call a friend or loved one late on a Friday afternoon and find out that she is in the Emergency Room. Presuming that something terrible has happened, you ask what’s wrong. “Oh, I don’t think it’s anything serious,” your friend reassures you. “I have a chronic disease and I wasn’t feeling well and I called my doctor’s office and they told me that they couldn’t see me and suggested that I go to the ED.”
There’s no emergency at all – your friend or loved one has simply been sent down medical care’s pathway of least resistance. This is what’s wrong with our country’s current approach to healthcare: the system is not designed to get the patient what she needs in the most caring and efficient way.
The type of care your friend or loved one needs should have been provided by her usual source of care, by a team led by her primary care physician … a team that she is familiar with and that has her medical record so she doesn’t have to tell her story from scratch and hope that she hasn’t forgotten anything …. a team that is expecting that she will call and is expecting to care for her. A primary care system that is part of an organized, coordinated larger system of care so that she wouldn’t need to visit the Emergency Department for something that isn’t an emergency.
GBMC is making significant strides to redesign the system and solve this wasteful and frustrating problem. As I previously announced in late February, the Hunt Valley primary care practice has become GBMC’s first official Patient-Centered Medical Home. The team was recognized at the highest level possible – Level 3 Physician Practice Connections-Patient-Centered Medical Home (PPC-PCMH) – by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This is a marvelous recognition of the hard work the team has invested towards our vision of being the place that treats everyone the way we would want our own loved ones treated (see “Our New Vision, Our New Plan to Get There"). If it was your own loved one, you would like him or her to be part of an organized, coordinated system of care, not caught in the middle between care providers trying to glue the system together on the fly.
|Dr Chessare (L) and Dr. Lamos (top right) pose with staff members from the Hunt Valley practice.|
The Patient Centered Medical Home is an approach to coordinating better health, and better care at lower cost. By earning the Level 3 PPC-PCMH recognition, the staff members of GBMC at Hunt Valley have proven that their practice is now designed to do the two most important things needed in a medical home:
1) Focus on prevention, wellness and the management of chronic disease rather than treating individual episodes of illness
2) Help patients manage their own care with the team’s active and on-going guidance through improved two-way communication and accessibility (the patient portal, myGBMC, is a visible example of the improved access we offer…see “Using Technology to get to Better Health, Better Care and Lower Cost”)
Again, congratulations to all of the dedicated employees who, under the leadership of Mark Lamos, MD, Robin Motter-Mast, DO, and Robyn Schaffer, practice manager, have made this goal possible.
In addition to GBMC at Hunt Valley, our other Greater Baltimore Medical Associates (GBMA) physicians have also embraced the concept of a Patient Centered Medical Home. They, too, are steadily making progress to earn the same recognition by implementing the specific elements set forth by NCQA. Ultimately, we will take what we’ve learned at Hunt Valley and GBMA and incorporate changes at all of our affiliated private practice primary care sites who are members of the Greater Baltimore Health Alliance (GBHA).
Do you have questions about GBMC’s transition toward better care and coordination through the Patient Centered Medical Home? Feel free to comment on what it means for you in the box provided below.
Getting in Action Toward Patient Safety
We continue to redesign our healthcare system to higher levels of reliability and patient safety. Yesterday, we launched a new video course that all employees will be required to take in the coming months. The video is called “Getting in Action For Patient Safety” and it’s intended for viewing in a group setting so that teams can have open discussion about applying critical safety measures in their specific work environments. From the four modules – Safe Behaviors, Reliable Systems, Just Culture and Learning – come principles and behaviors that are expected from all employees (not just those who provide direct patient care), like “follow the rules,” “pay attention to detail” and “communicate clearly and effectively.” Stay tuned for more information from your managers.