Imagine having a personal physician with whom you have an ongoing relationship and good communication; a physician who cares for all of your medical needs at all stages of your life; a physician who coordinates your care with specialists, hospital visits and home health care; a physician who involves you in all decision making, and a physician who provides the highest quality, safest care.
These principles are all key components of a Patient Centered Medical Home, a model of primary care that is being promoted widely at the national and local levels as the gold standard of care for the future.
UniversityCare at Edmondson Village, which provides comprehensive primary care and mental health services to the West Baltimore community, has become the first health center in Baltimore City to be recognized as a Patient Centered Medical Home by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA).
"The Patient Centered Medical Home concept is recognized as a valuable model for the way primary care should be delivered," says Neil Siegel, M.D., Medical Director of the three UniversityCare sites, including Edmondson Village. "The model emphasizes a physician-directed team approach to care with significant involvement from staff."
The National Committee for Quality Assurance performs a very rigorous, comprehensive review of a practice's performance in nine areas as part of its evaluation. These include access and communication, electronic prescribing of medication, care management, patient self-management support, test and referral tracking, and performance reporting and improvement.
"Obviously, we are very pleased to receive this recognition," says Dr. Siegel, who is also an assistant professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
UniversityCare is an urban family health center that has been serving the West Baltimore community for the past 15 years. The practice has more than 10,000 active patients, many of whom have been with the practice since it opened. Most of the staff have worked there for more than five years. About 1,800 new patients join each year. Many of the patients have chronic health conditions that require ongoing coordinated care and live in an area where the population traditionally has been underserved.
Recognition as a Patient Centered Medical Home gives health care consumers a valuable resource when they are choosing a primary care physician. UniversityCare at Edmondson Village has five full-time primary care physicians as well as a small staff of consisting of a nurse and medical assistants. It implemented an electronic medical record in 2007 to enhance care in a variety of ways, such as alerting the physicians when patients need follow-up tests and ensuring that medications are prescribed safety.
"Recognition by the NCQA signifies the highest standard of quality for physicians and outpatient practices. This recognition puts UniversityCare in the forefront of a new approach to care that is being promoted rigorously at the national and state levels," says Jeffrey A. Rivest, President and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The University of Maryland Medical System operates UniversityCare sites at Edmondson Village, the Waxter Center and at Shipley's Choice in Anne Arundel County, in partnership with University Physicians, Inc.
"We are very proud of the physicians and staff at UniversityCare for their dedication to their patients and leadership role as a model of how primary care should be delivered," says Rivest.
The Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council will launch a pilot program in 2011 to help primary care practices to become Patient Centered Medical Homes. Nationally, with the aging baby boomer population, experts predict a significant increase in the need for primary care along with rising health care costs. At the same time, a shortage of primary care doctors is anticipated. The Patient Centered Medical Home model has been shown to improve the quality of care as well as help to control costs.
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