Have you heard the term “Patient-Centered Medical Home” before? Whether you’ve heard them before or not, these words definitely refer to something that should matter to you. Why? Because “Patient-Centered Medical Home” refers specifically to the type of care you do - or don’t - receive as a patient.

The Patient-Centered Medical Home, also referred to as the PCMH, is a new delivery model of health care designed to help physicians and patients work together and ensure that you as a patient are receiving long-term, coordinated care, rather than one-time care that does nothing to prevent future health problems. This delivery model is one that Genesis Medical fully supports – and now that we’ve already begun to put the system into place within our practice, we’re looking to obtain recognition for it in the coming months.

With that in mind, we want to take time today to explore exactly what a PCMH is, why it matters, and most importantly of all, what you need to do as a patient now that it’s becoming a part of our daily operations here at Genesis Medical.

What exactly is the PCMH delivery model?

It’s a care delivery model designed to help patients receive not only treatments to episodic problems, but also preventive care designed to help people stay healthy over a longer period of time. The model was created with the assistance of theNational Committee for Quality Assurance, a non-governmental organization dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare patients receive in the US.

Why use the PCMH delivery model?

By design the PCMH aims to help develop a partnership between patients, their primary care providers and their health care teams. According to the NCQA website, “a patient centered medical home strengthens the physician-patient relationship by replacing episodic care with coordinated care and a long-term healing relationship. Each patient has an ongoing relationship with a personal physician who leads a team at a single location that takes collective responsibility for patient care, providing for the patient’s health care needs and arranging for appropriate care with other qualified clinicians. The medical home is intended to result in more personalized, coordinated, effective and efficient care. A medical home achieves these goals through a high level of accessibility, providing excellent communication among patients, physicians and staff and taking full advantage of the latest information technology to prescribe, communicate, track test results, obtain clinical support information and monitor performance.”

How are PCMH’s recognized?

The NCQA evaluates practices for PCMH recognition, awarding certification to practices that pass their evaluations. Here are some of the standards the NCQA judges a practice by when deciding if that practice deserves PCMH certification:

  • Enhanced Access and Communication – Can patients access their medical records easily? Are their questions answered in a timely manner? Do they have access to clinical advice during and after office hours?

  • Identify and Manage Patient Populations  – Does the practice collect patient data in a structured, secured format so that any other healthcare professional who works with the patient can access it?

  • Plan and Manage Care – Are the practice’s doctors working together to provide the right mix of preventive, acute and chronic care a patient needs?

  • Provide Self-Care Support and Community Resources – Does the practice offer understandable educational resources to help their patients with self-management of their specific disease? Additionally, does the practice give patients information regarding community resources for such problems as mental health, substance abuse, obesity and smoking cessation?

  • Track and Coordinate Care  – Does the practice use electronic health records to track their patients’ care (i.e. test orders and results, referrals, etc.)?

  • Measure and Improve Performance  – Does the practice actively look for ways to improve their care by using patient satisfaction surveys and other data tracking tools?

What does this mean for Genesis Medical?

Genesis Medical has been making changes that will ensure that you as our patient receive the best care tailored specifically to your needs. Chances are that you’ve already spotted a few of the changes we’ve made as we implement our PCMH standards. For example, we now offer our patients easy access to their information via MyMedicalRecord, which you can access directly through our website; we’ve also begun to use an integrated healthcare system that stores and protects your patient data in one place, allowing multiple doctors to access it if need be. You may also receive more information about your health during your appointments as a result of this new program.

What should I as a patient do to prepare for the changes?

With these changes being implemented we highly recommend that you begin to take an active role in the planning and management of your care by asking questions and communicating all of your concerns and needs with your doctors during their visits. Here are 10 specific things you can do going forward:

  1. Give a detailed and honest family history during appointments.

  2. Give an update of any changes in your health during each visit.

  3. Take any prescribed medications as directed by your doctor, and provide information about any over-the-counter and herbal medications that you are taking.

  4. Keep all of your scheduled appointments.

  5. Discuss and be involved in your treatment plan with your provider.

  6. Call your provider first with medical problems, unless it is a medical emergency.

  7. Avoid using the Emergency Room in non-emergency situations. Instead, use Urgent Care Facilities; if you’re not sure where these are located, we have lists available upon request.

  8. Bring any discharge papers from Emergency Room and Urgent Care visits to our office during an appointment.

  9. Inform us of all self-referred visits or special test(s), and bring documents when available.

  10. Provide personal email address for easy access and easy contact.

We hope this helps to clarify the direction we as a practice are looking to go. Do you have questions? Concerns? Feel free to call our offices or leave a comment on this post!