August 04, 2011
For immediate release
Contact: Gerry Ewing / 503-681-1654
Four primary care offices affiliated with Tuality Healthcare are participating in a statewide demonstration project to evaluate the potential benefits of a model of care called patient-centered primary care homes. The project focuses on patients with chronic diseases who may benefit from working with two specially trained nurse care managers at four Tuality affiliated clinics.
The key elements of the patient-centered primary care homes model are: strong personal relationships between patients and healthcare providers; access to healthcare providers at nearly all hours via telephone, text and email; use of evidence-based medicine; and culturally competent care from doctors and other healthcare providers.
The project, called High Value Patient Centered Care, aims to provide exceptional individualized care by a primary-care team committed to helping patients avoid preventable health crises. The project’s goal is improved quality and lower cost. The two Tuality nurse care managers, Naree Moore and Pamela Sloat, work in the four clinics to achieve high-quality care by developing personal relationships with chronically ill patients through intensive care management. In addition, the nurse care managers involve the patients, and sometime their caregivers, in managing their own healthcare. The participating clinics are Hillsboro Clinic, Hillsboro Internal Medicine, and Maple Street Clinic and Mt. View Medical Center, both in Forest Grove.
Tuality’s involvement is part of a statewide effort to explore high quality care under the sponsorship of the Oregon Health Leadership Council. The number of people and entities involved is impressive – 14 medical group, four health plans, four state insurance pools, 23 nurse case managers and over 4,000 patients enrolled statewide. The project launched Oct. 1, 2010 and runs until Dec. 31, 2012. Tuality now has over 400 patients enrolled in the project.
“I think we all agree that transforming the delivery of medicine is long overdue,” said Janet Meyer, chief operating officer of Tuality Health Alliance, the local sponsor of the project. “This project is just one step in that process, but it seems important to start the transformation where the patients need us most, in their primary care provider’s offices.”
Dr. Sheridan A. Thiringer, who helped craft Tuality’s involvement along with Meyer and Tuality Chief Exectuive Officer Dick Stenson, thinks the project could be a glimpse at healthcare’s future. He rates most medical care at this time as “mediocre.” He adds that patients “spend a ton of money on healthcare and it is delivered very inefficiently. In some ways, this project is reminiscent of medicine in days long gone, when the physician had time to spend with patients and had time to get to know the entire family. The nurse care manager helps the physician with that personal, continuous connection.”
The patients in the plan all have chronic conditions – diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, chronic pain and the like. The goal of the plan, according to Sloat, is to improve patient satisfaction, reduce avoidable health crises and drive costs down while improving standards of care.
The Oregon project was inspired by a similar project in Washington state involving the Boeing Co. That project demonstrated a high quality of care, positive feedback from patients and lower costs. The two Tuality case managers have found that the team collaboration they practice results in a higher trust level between the patient, doctor and case manager. That translates into better medication compliance, fewer visits to the emergency department and happier patients.
Sloat and Moore achieve this with increased communication between patient, primary care provider and case manager via phone calls and email. They can’t stress enough the importance of email communication between the case manager, patient and the primary care provider. “I’m a customer service fanatic,” said Moore. “This bodes well with good customer service.”
When the project runs its course in December 2012, the results will be evaluated by Dr. John McConnell, a health economist and associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University.
McConnell will compare the Oregon population of patients with a control group with similar characteristics. The key areas McConnell and others will analyze are cost reduction, quality of care and patient satisfaction. McConnell’s report will be available some time in 2013. Healthcare organization can then decide if the project is sustainable and whether to move forward.
For more information on this medical home program, or other initiatives to lower the cost of healthcare, visit http://www.orhealthleadershipcouncil.org/