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May 2, 2013

Bassett's 'medical home' system scores high marks

Bassett Healthcare Network’s adoption of the “medical home” concept is changing the way care is delivered at its 23 primary-care centers.

The patient-centered medical home approach, or PCMH, recently achieved a Level 3 rating — the highest — from the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a nonprofit dedicated to improving patient care.

“It’s more of a change in philosophy, I think, that really puts the patient at the center and engages patients to be part of their own healthcare,” said Dr. Carlton Rule, a family practitioner and a “physician champion” for Bassett’s PCMH program.

Under the program, which covers all patients at the primary-care centers, Rule and other doctors lead teams of medical professionals to plan and coordinate patient care.

“I work with an RN (registered nurse), an LPN (licensed practical nurse), a front-office staff that are all part of the process now,” Rule said. “In the past, maybe a patient would come in, see me in my office for a few minutes and leave. Now, I have an RN who’s calling a patient to see how they’re doing with their sugar control. Or they come out of the hospital, and the RN will call within a day or two to check and to see: Do they need to get right back in to follow up? Are they having trouble after leaving the hospital?”

“It’s a lot more coordination, so you need more than just me in the room for a few minutes,” he added. “It’s all this background work and extra work outside of the visit that’s starting to happen.”

The goal is to reduce long-term costs, Rule said.

“The government and insurers are starting to pay for it – this extra coordination – because it keeps people out of the hospital, out of the emergency room, prevents re-admissions, so it saves money in the long run,” he said. “To fund that extra work to prevent higher costs later is the idea. I think that’s why it’s getting the national attention.”

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