The Independent Health PCMH pilot program includes 18 diverse primary care practices across Western New York, 130 physicians and nearly 50,000 Independent Health patients. Westfield is the first practice in the pilot program to be awarded Recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Physician Practice Connections-Patient Centered Medical Home (PPC-PCMH). The PCMH standards emphasize the use of systematic, patient-centered, coordinated care that supports access, communication and patient involvement. The PPC-PCMH recognition was developed to assess whether physician practices are functioning as medical homes and recognize them for these efforts.
"We are excited to be a part of this project," said Timothy A. Gorman, M.D., FAAFP, a member of the Westfield Family Physicians team since 1987. "Working together with Independent Health and the other practices has been extremely beneficial. There's been a lot of integration and communication between the participating practices. By going through this NCQA recognition process, it has pushed us to be better doctors and to improve the quality of our patients' care. This is a way of life for us now and we believe that our patients and our practice are better for it."
"The patient-centered medical home promises to improve health and health care," said NCQA President Margaret E. O'Kane. "The active, ongoing relationship between a patient and a physician in medical homes fosters an all-too-rare goal in care: staying healthy and preventing illness in the first place. PPC-PCMH Recognition shows that Westfield Family Physicians has tools, systems and resources to provide their patients with the right care at the right time."
PCMH is part of an overall effort at Independent Health to advance the delivery of primary care by assisting practices with developing systems which promote accessible, continuous and coordinated patient-centered care utilizing a team approach. The program includes expanded access, enhanced technology to include electronic medical records and e-mail with patients and a comprehensive care team for those with or at risk of having a chronic condition.
"The goal is to improve quality and satisfaction among patients, staff and physicians as well as control costs," said Thomas Foels, M.D. MMM, chief medical officer, Independent Health. "We're beginning to see tremendous progress with the pilot practices, which is great for their patients and their cost containment. Westfield earning this important recognition is a great testament to the hard work and dedication their practice has exhibited through this process. They have really embraced this new way of practicing medicine. We're very proud of their work and look forward to the other practices receiving this valued recognition."
Patient-centric models are taking hold in communities across the country as a viable way to achieve what's referred to in the health care reform movement as the Triple Aim: better care, improved satisfaction and bending the medical trend. Westfield Family Physicians, PC has embraced this concept since starting the pilot project in January 2009.
Currently, Westfield Family Physicians provides care to more than 12,000 patients. Incorporating the PCMH model into a practice of this size has required the efforts of the entire staff. A core group, consisting of both providers and office staff, was assigned to oversee the program and facilitate process improvements throughout the entire practice. Enhancing the lines of communication with patients has also been a top priority.
"It is an opportunity for us to continually improve the care we deliver," Dr. Gorman said. "As part of the PCMH project, we are working to improve access to care in an effort to provide the services our patient's want, when they want them. The goal is to be able to offer a same-day visit with any provider in the office each day. In order for a PCMH model to succeed, the patient needs to understand that they are part of a team and the decision-making process."
NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations and manages the evolution of HEDIS, the performance measurement tool used by more than 90 percent of the nation's health plans. The Recognition Programs were developed to help clinicians and practices support the delivery of high-quality care.
Westfield Family Physicians, pictured above, recently received national recognition.