University Medical Center was nationally certified in December as a Patient-Centered Medical Home in recognition of its commitment to place patients at the forefront of care while improving quality and lowering health care costs.
“Your practice is among the elite group that has demonstrated its commitment to advancing quality in health care,” the National Committee for Quality Assurance wrote in announcing the PCMH certification of UMC, which is operated by UA’s College of Community Health Sciences.
NCQA recognition means medical practices have made a commitment to providing care that is patient-centered, accessible, continuous, comprehensive and coordinated, and focuses on quality. The PCMH model uses a care delivery team, led by a primary care physician, that delivers coordinated and integrated care and is proactive in providing preventive, wellness and chronic illness care – all with the patient at the center of the health care experience.
Research shows that the PCMH model builds better relationships between patients and their clinical care teams, improves quality of care as well as the patient experience and staff satisfaction, and reduces health care costs. The PCMH has also been shown to help patients be more compliant and able to successfully manage chronic health conditions.
“This was a long time coming and a lot of work, and it matters because research shows NCQA PCMH recognition improves patient care and reduces costs,” said Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of CCHS and a family medicine physician. “In addition, the PCMH model is associated with happier staff and patients.”
UMC is the largest community practice in West Alabama, with locations in Tuscaloosa, Northport and Demopolis, and more than 155,000 patient visits last year. UMC provides primary care-focused health services in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, psychiatry, geriatrics, neurology and sports medicine. The PCMH certification was received by UMC’s Tuscaloosa location on the UA campus for its family medicine and pediatric clinics.
“There are not many PCMHs in Alabama at all, and most are for a specific disease management program, like diabetes,” Streiffer said. “We are the only Level 3 PCMH in the area, and one of only a small handful that I know of in the state.”
NCQA recognition ranges from Level 1 to Level 3, which is the highest. UMC family medicine clinics received Level 3 PCMH recognition and its pediatric clinic received Level 2 recognition. The levels require meeting benchmarks: enhancing access to care and continuity of care; identifying and managing patient populations; planning and managing care; providing self-care support and community resources; tracking and coordinating care; and measuring and improving performance.
These efforts translate to providing patients with reminders about their chronic and preventive care needs, more regular screenings, after-hours care, use of electronic health records to improve quality and efficiency of care and to monitor chronic diseases, and use of multiple channels of communication, including web-based portals through which patients can request appointments and prescription refills.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.