Crete Becomes First Rural Health Clinic in Nebraska to Earn Medical Home Recognition
Crete Area Medical Center Physicians' Clinic (CAMC) earned Physician Practice Connections-Patient Centered Medical Home (PPC-PCMH) Recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality.
CAMC is the first rural health clinic in the state to earn this Recognition.
"In a patient-centered medical home practice, a physician-led team oversees each patient's care. This team coordinates the patient's treatment and assures all health care needs are addressed, from preventative to acute care," said CAMC's Chief of Medical Staff, Dr. Russell Ebke.
What is PCMH?
The Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is a promising model of health care delivery that aims to improve the quality and efficiency of care, PPC-PCMH identifies practices that promote partnerships between individual patients and their personal clinicians, instead of treating patient care as the sum of several episodic office visits.
Each patient's care is tended to by the clinician-lead care teams, who provide for all the patient's health care needs and coordinate treatments across the health care system. Medical home clinicians demonstrate the benchmarks of patient-centered care, including open scheduling, expanding hours and appropriate use of proven health information systems.
How PCHMH Changes Care
The changes in the Crete Area Medical Center as a patient-centered medical home are subtle, but powerful.
Consider the hypothetical 50-year-old patient who seeks medical attention under the current health care norm. The patient is a smoker, carrying a few extra pounds, with blood sugar levels slightly beyond normal.
Because the current standard of healthcare is more reactive than preventative, that patient might go home, having been treated for only the most immediate health concern.
In a few years, he may have diabetes and health conditions accompanying smoking and obesity.
Take the same patient seeking treatment at CAMC as a patient-centered medical home facility.
On that initial visit, the patient learns he is on the path to diabetes or obesity and receives medical education - tips on managing weight, blood sugar and smoking cessation. His doctor schedules appointments with CAMC's diabetes education program and a dietician. There are follow up calls and/or visits.
"In a few years, that same person does not have diabetes. They are active, still working," said Ebke.
This is in contrast to more typical health care that is episode based and delivered by a range of physicians or specialists who are not connected with each other and the patient's medical history.
Initially, patients with chronic illnesses will see the most benefit from the program. Improving primary care has the potential to delay the onset of a disease, keep patients in their homes longer and keep them out of the emergency room, Ebke said.
According to Carol Friesen, CAMC's CEO, becoming a "medical home" facility builds on the philosophy already in place. "We have a significant investment in time, talent and resources to provide this level of care for our patients. This NCQA PPC-PCMH Recognition takes us to the next step," she said.
How is CAMC different?
CAMC has already implemented new programs that align with "medical home" guidelines, including the completion of electronic medical records, diabetes education programming, preventative screening regiments and on-going disease monitoring programs.
Down the road, "medical home" facilities may contribute to cost savings in health care. Preventing just one hospital stay can pay for a patient's overall health care for years.
"Our goal is to help more people stay healthy, with less expense," Friesen said.
Who Awards this Recognition?
To receive NCQA PPC-PMCH Recognition, which is valid for three years, Crete Area Medical Center Physicians' Clinic demonstrated the ability to meet the programs key criteria, embodying characteristics of the patient-centered medical home. The NCQA PPC-PCMH Recognition standards are aligned with the joint principles of the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Osteopathic Association.