GREEN BAY — Strengthening the relationships between physicians and patients can ultimately lead to better overall health, some experts say. That’s why 12 Bellin Health clinics sought and earned accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as patient-centered medical homes.
Bellin’s 12 accredited medical homes include the health system’s Algoma, Ashwaubenon, Bellevue, Brillion, Clinica Hispana, East De Pere, Howard, West De Pere, Oconto Falls, Seymour, Seigler Street and Wrightstown clinics.
Bellin also is in the process of accrediting its Webster Avenue, Kewaunee and Luxemburg-based clinics as medical homes.
The notion of a medical home is not a reference to a specific location, rather, it is a growing approach to providing primary care that fosters stronger partnerships between patients and their health care providers with the ultimate goal of increasing patient satisfaction and improved health.
“Studies show that when health care facilities adopt the patient-centered medical home model and strengthen the relationship between physician and patient they’ll offer higher-quality, less expensive primary care and more importantly, better overall outcomes,” said Amy Dettman, director Bellin Medical Group. “Medical homes help reduce admissions to the hospital as well as trim patient morbidities.”
Barbara Starfield of Johns Hopkins University reviewed dozens of studies, comparing health care in the United States and elsewhere and found that:
• Within the U.S., adults with a primary care physician had 33 percent lower costs of care and were 19 percent less likely to die from their conditions than those who received care from a specialist
• Primary care physician supply is consistently associated with improved health outcomes for conditions like cancer, heart disease, stroke, infant mortality and others
• In the U.S. and England, each additional primary care physician is associated with 1.44 fewer deaths per 10,000 people
Another working illustration of the patient-centered medical home is Community Care of North Carolina, the state’s Medicaid program. Two independent evaluations of the program indicated that it saved North Carolina an estimated $200 million in 2003 and $250 million in 2004.
Under the patient-centered medical home model patients have quicker access to their physicians, spend more time with them and receive better comprehensive care, Dettman explained. “These are principles that have guided Bellin Health for a number of years. We view the accreditation almost as a formal acknowledgement of our everyday work.”
The medical home concept is not entirely new, said Bellin family physician Dr. Robert Mead.
“The idea of the medical home has been around for a while. It’s really just the start of the country reshaping its primary health care landscape,” Mead said. “Under the medical home model, the standards, health care costs, overall quality and degree of improved patient outcomes will only get better.”