Health care today is pretty complex.
Everyone is asked to take a proactive role in their health, but the number of items can seem overwhelming. There are preventive screenings, immunizations and so many specialists you can see to address specific problems.
If you have a chronic condition, there are even more treatments and tests to manage.
That's where the patient centered medical home model can help you get better quality healthcare to enjoy a healthier life.
While patient-centered medical home sounds like a place, it's more of a way of looking at your health care. It's a model of care being used in physician offices across the U.S. It's proven to improve the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare.
When using this model, your primary care or family practice physician's office serves as the hub of your medical home.
That's where all of the information about your care is collected and processed offering a complete picture of your health.
In this model of care, your doctor's office alerts you when it's time to get immunizations such as the flu shot or a tetanus booster, or when it's time to have a cholesterol screening, blood pressure check or colonoscopy.
This proactive approach is different than bombarding you with numerous screenings, tests and immunizations that are "past due" when you schedule an appointment because you aren't feeling well.
When you stay current with your preventive care, your doctor is more likely to identify significant problems earlier, when they are easier to treat. In addition, with one office tracking your care, you are less likely to have duplicative tests ordered by different specialists. If you are hospitalized, your medical home ensures there's a seamless transition to home life following your discharge with appropriate follow-up care and appointments.
With a chronic condition, such as diabetes, a nurse or other advanced practice professional from your medical home assists with educating you about your condition and how to manage it.
Your medical home makes sure you are staying current with monitoring tests such as the A1C to evaluate your blood sugar management. These professionals can help you get your condition under control and even refer you to a nutrition counselor for additional assistance.
In the medical home model doctors can view your whole health picture. They don't have to spend time during your appointment asking if you've had a flu shot or other immunizations because your record is coordinated and available. This leaves more time to address the concern at hand and even unearth other potential problems or concerns.
Another goal of the Patient Centered Medical Home is improving patient satisfaction, which includes eliminating duplicative efforts to save you time and make your office visits more pleasant. You will have better access to care when you need it because the office is operating more efficiently.
You can find out if your physician's office is operating with a Patient Centered Medical Home model by calling and asking. Even in this model, you do need to make your physician's office aware of the specialists you have seen and of any hospitalizations that occur without your physician's knowledge. This information will enable your physician to track down the details to maintain a full picture of your health.
Dr. Carrie Timko, practices at Susquehanna Health Family Medicine in Lock Haven. She is a graduate of MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine and completed her residency in the Williamsport Family Medicine Residency program.