New Medical Home Model: Places Patient at Center of Health Care

Kim Seidel | Apr 1, 2014, 10:30 a.m.

“I finally match the way I feel inside,” says Mary Heiska-Ryan, who in real-life radiates the adage, “beautiful inside and out.” She’s lost more than 100 pounds in the past 12 months, and she continues to lose weight.

“The stars were aligned right for me,” she says. Last year during a visit to Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Hartford Health Center, Heiska-Ryan asked her doctor about finding a program for weight loss. “If I could’ve done it on my own, I would’ve.”

When the doctor asked if she’d like the clinic’s care coordinator to contact her, Heiska-Ryan responded with an enthusiastic “yes!” Little did she know the stars were aligned even straighter than she imagined: Froedtert & the Medical College offers a newer health care model that is becoming increasingly popular in the health care industry – the “Medical Home,” also called a “Patient-Centered Medical Home.” Reflecting its name, the Medical Home places the patient at the epicenter of care.

Through the Medical Home model, a patient’s health care delivery is highly personalized, coordinated, effective and efficient. Using a team approach, the Medical Home addresses the entire spectrum of a patient’s unique health care needs, from prevention and acute illness to more focused, ongoing care for chronic medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma.

“I didn’t know about this opportunity for my health,” Heiska-Ryan says. “When I heard about it, I was ready to dive in with both feet.”

Team approach empowers patients

The Medical Home model didn’t exist 10 years ago. Today its adoption is a growing movement in health care, and it’s offered now in our area. That’s great news for women, who often guide the majority of family health care decisions.

There’s more good news – saving money. Well-designed, patient-specific plans of care can help keep people out of the emergency room and hospital, which are more expensive than routine doctor visits, says Dr. Gregory Blommel, medical director of quality and outcome for Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Community Physicians. This clinical practice group includes nearly 200 primary and specialty care physicians practicing at more than 30 Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin clinics throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.

The cornerstone of Medical Home is the relationship between a patient and their primary care physician. In turn, the physician leads a care team consisting of a registered nurse coordinator, pharmacist, dietitian, social worker, nurse educator and scheduler. Often, a long-term relationship develops among care teams, patients and families, Blommel says.

It’s amazing to think that nearly 175 primary care providers in the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin health care network are now working together to address patients’ entire range of health care needs. “Doctors are shifting from the traditional way of providing care,” Dr. Blommel says. “Now, the nurse care coordinator and other care team members play instrumental roles in care delivery.”

The Medical Home holds the power to transform the health of a community with a more patient-centered, proactive and evidence-based approach to care. The goal is to help people experience improved outcomes and a higher quality of life, Blommel says.

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