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Thu January 31, 2013
Greater Boston Video: Medical Homes Take a Team Approach to Primary Care
A visit to your primary care physician often means long waits in exchange for fleeting face-time with a doctor. But a growing trend in the medical field aims to change that and a lot more.
At Advanced Primary Care in Jamaica Plain, a routine check-up could lead to a one-on-one meeting with a pharmacist or social worker. That's because it isn’t a typical doctor’s office. It’s a medical home.
"A medical home is essentially a clinic in which there’s a team of providers in different levels of health professions who work together centered around a patient’s needs to provide health care and health promotion," said Dr. Asaf Bitton.
Bitton is a primary care physician and part of a team of medical professionals who collaborate on each patient's care. Before their daily appointments, the team “huddles" to discuss each case.
"We think that by having various professionals who are coordinating, who are accessible 24/7, who work together and ask what your needs are, we think that’s getting closer to what patients actually want," Bitton said.
Part of that coordination includes what the team calls the “warm hand-off.” For example, if a patient tells a doctor they are taking multiple medications, pharmacist Sonia Freitas is on hand to offer advice.
"I educate patients on the correct and safe use of the medications that they’ve been prescribed," Freitas said. "I really think that if patients know better why they’re taking their medications, they’re more apt to take them."
Maria Cuellar made the switch from a traditional doctor’s office to the medical home a year and a half ago.
"I have diabetes," Cuellar said. "I have other medical issues, and they’ve always kept up with me. They don’t make just you feel like you’re just a patient. They actually make you feel like a person. It makes a huge difference."
The medical home model is relatively new, so it’s track record is unproven – but Dr. Bitton said he sees the benefits in both care and cost.
"The early studies of this model show that it looks like it improves patient quality and improve patient’s experience of their health care," Bitton said. "And from a systems point of view because health care is so expensive, it looks like it may be starting to lower overall health costs."
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