Boyne Area Medical Center was designated as a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan PCMH in 2012. The process began in 2011 and was guided by Dave Nicholson, a consultant from the Medical Advantage Group (MAG), a healthcare consulting and management company that provides practice transformation services. “Medical Advantage Group believed we could do it,” said Wendling. “We’ve been very encouraged that their consultants continued to remain involved, even after we were designated. We never expected this level of service and support.”
“I’ve gotten better at using each team member’s skills,” said Wendling. “Before PCMH, as a physician, I felt like I needed to do everything for the patient. Now, I am more proactive in involving who I know can help. For example, for my diabetic patients, I’m much more apt to tell the patient, ‘a nurse will be calling you once a week to talk to you about your blood sugar numbers, and you’ll see the physician assistant in a month, and then see me in three months.’ Before, I would have had the patient back in to see me in a week or two.”
According to Wendling, patients seem to have a better acceptance of taking a more active role in their care since implementing the Patient-Centered Medical Home philosophy. They are also showing increased confidence in the Medical Center’s team, since they know they may speak with anyone on their care team and receive the correct answers, even when their doctor isn’t available.
“The PCMH philosophy of teamwork and fulfilling your role makes it harder for people and their care to fall through the cracks,” said Cassie Bellinger, quality specialist. “From a billing perspective, I’ve seen a vast improvement in what’s being documented in the chart,” said Bellinger. “All conditions and discussions are documented, showing important issues that should be focused on at the next visit. There is a lot more attention to detail, so that no matter who follows behind you (treating the patient), everybody knows what’s going on.”
As one of the requirements of Patient-Centered Medical Home, the Medical Center reserves a block of time for patients without appointments. “We really try harder to keep time available for walk-ins,” said Mercer. “Previously, our practice was booked by 10 a.m., forcing us to send patients to the Emergency Room or an Urgent Care. Now, by keeping open access and building our team, we have turned that around and we can see any patient who needs to be seen.” “This dramatic improvement has made our practice so much more patient-friendly and has off-loaded our nursing,” said Wendling. “It’s a better use of everybody’s time and patients are happier.”
If you would like to learn more about how the PCMH philosophy can improve your physician office experience, contact the Boyne Area Medical Center at (231) 582-5314.