patient centered medical home

A Better Breed of Primary Care

Recently, BCBSNC eliminated my wife’s health insurance plan (very frustrating) and she was forced to select a new plan. Scotti had been seeing a Duke Medicine primary care provider, but under her new plan, she would have to select a UNC Health Care Provider. I could write a whole post about insurance companies forcing members to continually change providers in order to stay in-network, but that’s not what this post is about. My focus is on the new provider she has select. To me, it looks like the change in providers was a stroke of luck and Scotti has ended up in a much more progressive practice. That is potentially good news!

The new practice is called Carolina Advanced Health and was jointly launched in December 2011 by UNC Health Care and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. It was designed as an initiative to lead the way in providing quality care, reducing health care costs and improving the patient experience. Some of the things about this practice that I love (and I don’t get from my primary care provider) include:

  • The patient is seen at the time of the appointment. There are no long waits.
  • The patient gets more time with the provider and isn’t rushed through the appointment. (Satisfaction scores are extremely high.)
  • In its first year in existence, there were no avoidable hospital admissions for the entire year. How many practices can say that?
  • The patient panel had 64 percent fewer emergency department visits compared with the BCBSNC patient population as a whole.
  • The practice seems to be built on the patient-centered, medical home model with a team approach that includes the physician, nurses, a pharmacist, a nutritionist/health coach, and a behavioral health specialist.
  • Each primary care provider holds a weekly meeting of the whole team, focusing mainly on reviewing high-risk patients’ cases. Throughout each day, teams meet in huddles to communicate patient status and solve problems. The practice is designed to help patients with chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma but is open to anyone.
  • e-visits are often scheduled for follow-up consultations, medication management, and chronic disease management. The patient receives a link by email to download a video conferencing program for a video-based doctor’s appointment. About 12% of appointments use the telehealth platform.
  • The practice offers early morning, evening and Saturday hours.
  • On their website, they have all the forms a patient needs in a downloadable format! So easy and yet rarely done. They also have ratings for the various providers and comments from patients.
  • They have online scheduling of appointments.

I’m excited to hear what Scotti thinks of this new practice and her new care team. It is encouraging to know that her provider is part of a patient-centered group that is committed to a holistic approach to care.


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