University Medical Center-Northport was recently nationally certified as a Patient-Centered Medical Home in recognition of its commitment to place patients at the center of care and to advance quality in the health care it provides.
The recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance means medical practices have made a commitment to provide health care that is patient-centered, accessible, continuous, comprehensive, coordinated and quality-focused.
“This is an important recognition because research shows that being patient-centered and having PCMH accreditation improves patient care,” said Dr. Richard Friend, interim dean of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences which operates UMC-Northport. “As we move into a quality-based reimbursement system, it will be important that all of our clinics reach these standards. We are certainly working toward that goal.”
The PCMH model uses a health care team, led by a primary care physician, that delivers coordinated and integrated care and that 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 team, 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 more successful in managing chronic health conditions.
“We are leaders in practice transformation,” said Dr. Jane Weida, associate professor of family medicine and interim chair of the College’s department of family, internal, and rural medicine, who led the UMC-Northport team that met weekly for 18 months to achieve the NCQA certification.
Along with UMC-Northport, CCHS also operates the University Medical Center in Tuscaloosa and UMC-Demopolis, which together comprise the largest multi-specialty medical practice in West Alabama with more than 150,000 patient visits last year. The practice provides primary care-focused health services in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, psychiatry, geriatrics, neurology, endocrinology and sports medicine.
UMC’s Tuscaloosa location received PCMH accreditation for its family medicine and pediatrics clinics in December 2017. Weida also serves as clinical director of the Family Medicine Clinic at UMC in Tuscaloosa.
Some of the categorical benchmarks needed to meet PCMH accreditation include: enhancing access to care and continuity of care; planning and managing care; identifying and managing specific patient populations; providing self-care support and community resources; tracking and coordinating care; and measuring and improving performance.
These efforts can translate into reminders to patients about their chronic and preventive care needs, more regular screenings, after-hours care, use of electronic health records to improve efficiency of care and to monitor chronic diseases, and use of multiple channels of communication, including web-based portals for patients to 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.