Imagine a state where all Rhode Islanders – from Woonsocket to Narragansett – enjoyed excellent health and quality of life. Instead of waiting to get sick, Rhode Islanders would be active participants in an affordable, integrated health care system that promotes wellness and delivers high quality, comprehensive primary care.
Through collaboration between our state’s business and health care sectors, small and large employers, state leaders and health care providers came to the table last month at the Rhode Island Business Group on Health’s annual Health Care Summit to discuss this shared vision and, more importantly, how it can be achieved.
The patient-centered medical home, a strategy and vehicle for realizing this shared vision, was the focus of discussion at the annual summit. By its very name, the patient-centered medical home identifies the most important piece of the health care delivery system: the patient.
The PCMH is not a place – it is a model of primary care, in which a team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals works with each patient to focus on the overall health of the person, rather than their specific condition or the cost of their care.
The patient-centered medical home is personal care in a high-tech world. The team knows the patient and his or her family and works with the patient to make treatment decisions, including best options based on the patient’s needs and preferences.
Patients and their providers are encouraged to talk in person and electronically, to ensure that patients fully understand their conditions and how to properly care for them. This model aims for a strong, long-term patient-provider relationship, with the physician taking responsibility to meet all of the patient’s health care needs and arranging care with other qualified professionals, including specialists, hospitals, home-care agencies and others, when necessary.
Physician practices that transform themselves into patient-centered medical homes offer patients enhanced access to care by more open scheduling, expanded office hours and better communication with their personal physician and care team. They focus on prevention, overall wellness and appropriate treatment, which will lead to improved care, lower costs and better health for Rhode Islanders.