I Wanna Go Home…

medical home careSubmitterd by: Dr Rebecca Wise

Have you heard of a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH)? It’s probably not what you think…
A PCMH is not a nursing home or other facility where you might live. It’s actually a philosophy, not a place. It’s a new and still evolving idea of medical care that is centered around you, as a patient, to give you access to physicians, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, physical therapists, and any other health care provider you might need.

One of the biggest problems in health care is lack of communication. One patient might have a family doctor, a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, a dentist, an ophthalmologist, a podiatrist, and a pharmacist. However, each of these provider’s offices has a different computer system, a different method of charting your information, and different ideas about what is important for your care. Until everyone is “on the same page”, you are in charge of keeping track of everything. But, if you are not well-versed in medical terminology, or simply cannot keep track of it all, you might actually be putting yourself at risk for a medical mistake.

A “home base” for everyone to keep track of your information can help alleviate this risk. If you end up in the hospital or need rehabilitation or some specialized care, your providers can know your medical history to better plan your recovery. A way of organizing all this information will help coordinate your care to a more focused goal of total overall health. Instead of just treating each of your symptoms or conditions, your health care team can treat you, as a whole person.

There are 5 parts to the idea of a Patient Centered Medical Home, according to the Federal Department of Health and Human Resources.

First, is Comprehensive care – your primary care physician’s office (family doctor) is in responsible for meeting your needs of physical and mental health by treatment and prevention. You needs might include specialist physicians, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, educators, therapists, or others, so your family doctor becomes the lead figure in your team.

Next is the Relationship between you and your team. Your physician’s office may be the lead figure, but they can only do what you request of them. If you don’t ask them to forward your information, they cannot do it. Therefore, YOU are in command of your health and must keep the relationship with your team strong.

Third is the Coordination of care so that whether you are in the hospital, in a transitional care unit, a long-term-care or rehabilitation facility, everyone who needs to know about your care can stay informed.

The next part of the PCMH is Accessibility. You will have the ability to call or email questions at any time of day or night. And even better, you will have shorter wait times at offices and better access for urgent needs because you won’t have to fill out all that paperwork before a provider can help you.

Finally, the most important part is the improvement in the Quality & Safety of your care. The clinical decisions that need to be made by your providers will be much more customized to your needs because none of your team members will be missing any information. Chronic conditions, surgeries, medical history, medicines you take, over-the-counter products you normally use, your allergies and drug sensitivities, etc. will all be listed in one place. Your care will be based on evidence from YOUR life, not some random sample of strangers. Your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with any aspect of your care will be noted so it can be addressed each time you need something, so that the quality of care you are receiving is up to YOUR standards.

What a wonderful idea, right? Safe, quality, comprehensive care, coordinated among all your health care providers in relationship with you and your wants and needs. This is the way of the future. It will likely become a mandatory part of our health-care system, but it is just starting now, so start asking your providers if they participate in a medical home. The more they know you want to be part of this concept, the more likely they are to join your team.

YOU have the power to take command of your health!

For more information:

Be Well, Be Wise,


Dr. Rebecca Wise

Wise Words…. is a general medical information column from Dr Rebecca Wise. Dr. Wise has a master’s degree in education as well as her doctorate in pharmacy. She is an assistant professor and ambulatory care specialist at a Medication Therapy Management (MTM) clinic in Erie, PA.

Soon to be released is Dr Becky’s new website which will address women’s issues, watch for it: www.WiseWordsforWomen.com

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