By Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Freitag, Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, Wash.
Imagine being able to see your primary care physician the same day you call to make an appointment. Imagine being able to communicate with your health care team any time of day by leveraging technology or email to get lab results or non-urgent medical advice. Imagine your health care team calling or emailing you about your well-being and reminding you about important preventive medical services to help ensure your ongoing wellness and health. Imagine a comprehensive health care system where the patient is the center of the medical practice and the sole focus is on patient health.
If you can imagine that, then I introduce you to the Primary Care Medical Home (PCMH) at Naval Hospital (NH) Oak Harbor, Wash.
The three Primary Care Medical Home (PCMH) teams at NH Oak Harbor (two teams in Family Medicine and one in Pediatrics) boast the highest patient/provider continuity in the Navy and outstanding access to care. If a beneficiary were to call today, they have a better than 90 percent chance of seeing their own Primary Care Provider on the same day. By simplifying provider templates and booking protocols and placing the Primary Care Medical Team in the role of patient-manager, NH Oak Harbor has been able to demonstrate patient satisfaction and access to care that are above Navy Medicine standards.
Our patients and our staff are very satisfied with the level of personal attention and professional pride that the Medical Home model has fostered in our practice. We believe our success is largely attributed to changes in how we schedule, book, and structure patient care visits. Specifically:
- We ensure patient/provider continuity by limiting cross-booking at our centralized appointment system and only allow non-PCM visits with team nurse oversight.
- A high rate of patient/provider continuity leads to increased patient/staff satisfaction. This in turn, feeds a passion by the PCMH teams to become invested in their patient panels. We believe this contributes to high-quality patient outcomes.
- Open access appointing creates more opportunities for patient convenience.
- Patient encounters are maximized to address multiple issues in one-setting, thereby preventing excessive follow-up appointments.
- PCMH team members actively contact (phone/asynchronous email) patients to manage routine/chronic issues outside of the clinic and therefore decrease future demand pressure.
- PCMH Team performance reflects wellness/quality of care metrics and replaces Relative Value Unit driven appointment-volume as a measurement of productivity and efficiency.
Truthfully, our day-in,day-out processes at NH Oak Harbor may not look much different from other facilities; however the secret to our success is our commitment to the PCMH concept. Every day we look introspectively and ask ourselves what do we do well and what do we not do well. If I was a patient here, would I value my care? Would I choose NH Oak Harbor and my PCMH team? These are the truly important questions when it comes to providing health care to our beneficiaries.
We have dedicated ourselves to an atmosphere that it is not provider-centered, but patient-centered. That is Medical Home Port NH Oak Harbor.