Providing compassionate, patient-centered care has been the primary focus at Clara Barton Hospital and Clinics since its founding in 1950, but recent efforts to embrace an even more innovative and personalized approach to care has earned Clara Barton Medical Clinics national recognition. Clara Barton Hospital and Clinics President and CEO, Jim Blackwell, is pleased to announce that all three Clara Barton Medical Clinics in Hoisington, Great Bend, and Russell recently received certification as Patient-Centered Medical Homes by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The Clara Barton Clinics are the first hospital-based Rural Health Clinics in the Central Kansas Region to have received this designation. This new certification establishes a model of care that is patient-focused, improving the quality of care, enhancing patient experience, building better relationships between patients and providers, and providing additional clinic services to better serve patient needs.
Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is a care delivery model that uses evidence-based, patient-centered processes, focusing on highly coordinated care and long-term relationship building. This advanced model of primary care uniquely addresses all of the patient’s medical needs in one convenient location. The primary care provider helps to coordinate all specialty appointments including dental, eye, and mental health together with primary care to ensure the patient’s entire health is at its best. Research shows this model also improves quality, the patient experience and staff satisfaction, while reducing health care costs.
“When a patient is seen in a PCMH clinic, their primary care physician essentially serves as their “home base” for their medical care,” said Dr. T. Scott Webb, DO, Family Practice Physician with Clara Barton Medical Clinic. “That primary care physician along with a team of nurses and support staff serves as the patient’s clinical care team and assists with the coordination of the patient’s care across the board.”
In order to qualify for the PCMH certification, a primary care clinic must first meet a set of guidelines established by the NCQA. The clinic must then pass a rigorous, comprehensive review ensuring those guidelines and requirements have been met. After qualifying as a PCMH, organizations must annually report their performance to maintain their PCMH status.
While working towards achieving the PCMH certification, the Clara Barton Medical Clinics have made many enhancements as well as added additional services and staff to the clinic to ensure they are providing the highest quality of patient care possible.
Some of those changes and additions include:
· Improved Patient Accessibility to Appointment Times
o Added same-day appointments, where patients can call for an appointment the same day. Same-day appointments are offered on a first come first serve bases.
o Added evening and lunchtime appointments in addition to the walk-in clinic to provide convenient appointment availability
· Better accessibility to Receive Immunizations
o Immunizations can be administered at the time of the appointment at all three Clara Barton Medical Clinics
o Launched Vaccines for Children Program at all primary care locations
· Implementation of Patient Portal
o Gives patients a tool to view their test results, interact with and message their provider, and request, cancel or view upcoming appointments, all at the touch of a finger
· Addition of Behavioral and Mental Health
o Added additional staff and a Licensed Master Social Worker to accommodate patient behavioral and mental health needs
· Lab Draws Available at the Time of the Appointment
o Lab draws are available during clinic appointments at all locations
o Addition of walk-in lab draw times for patient convenience
“We have done so many things to try to make the patient experience better, which fits right in with the Clara Barton Mission,” said Webb. “We aren’t just doing things the same old way because that’s what has always worked. We are being innovative and highly involving our patients in their care.”
Webb explained that one way they are achieving that goal is through improved communication between the patient, the provider, and the entire healthcare team.
"One of the intended benefits of the Patient Centered Medical Home is to foster relationship building and a high level of engagement with our patients," said Webb. "Patient outcomes tend to greatly improve as they get more involved and engaged in their own care."
Additionally, the clinics have worked to cultivate better lines of communication by developing a new clinical department geared toward serving as the patient’s care management team. The team assists with the patient’s care by calling with appointment reminders, providing follow up calls, providing support to those struggling with chronic illness, and even by providing assistance with scheduling for both primary care and specialty care appointments. They also help confirm patients are taking necessary medications, assist with medication refills, and provide assistance to those who cannot afford medications.
“One workflow that we’ve adopted, that is kind of unique, is that when our patients are seen in the ER or have been hospitalized, we reach out to them within a day or two to make sure everything is ok,” said Webb. “Then if they need a follow-up appointment we get that set up for them and try to get them in right away.”
Another important facet of the PCMH model is being able to track results. One way the Clara Barton Medical Clinics track their results is through the use of patient surveys. Although the idea of patient surveys is not new to CBMC, they recently incorporated an enhanced and professionally administered survey for the patients to provide feedback about their visit.
“The patient surveys have become an integral part of how we manage our clinics,” said Webb. “It’s not just that we are collecting these surveys, we really look into what the patients have to say and are acting upon that feedback and their requests. The patient voice does matter.”
Building patient relationships and trust through their care team and measuring success through patient surveys has proven to have made a significant impact on the willingness of patients to become involved and take an active role in their own healthcare. The care model has also shifted the provider’s focus when treating patients.
”Essentially, we are shifting from a model where providers were trying to see the most patients possible in a single day, to a model where we are less focused on numbers and more focused on making sure we are providing the best possible care for our patients,” said Webb. “But what that does not do is result in longer wait-times for our patients. We are constantly looking for ways to expand our staff, our availability, and our hours to accommodate our patients in a timely fashion. The PCMH designation helps us keep what’s best for the patient front and center 100% of the time.”
PCMH has also helped to shift the provider’s practice style by becoming more engaged with the front-end of care.
“Our providers are now more focused on preventative care,” said Deb Hawkins, Clinic Administrator. “Instead of just treating the issue at hand, we are diving a lot deeper into the issue to better understand what’s going on and to hopefully prevent the patient from developing a chronic disease. Our goal is to be proactive rather than reactive.”
Clara Barton Medical Clinics officially became PCMH certified in March, but many of the modifications and added services have been in place for some time now.
“While Clara Barton Medical Clinics have experienced a lot of change through innovative growth, the main focus today is still the same as it was in the beginning,” said Jim Blackwell, Clara Barton Hospital and Clinics CEO. “We take pride in it being our responsibility and duty to deliver excellence in care for each and every one of our patients. I am very honored to work with a medical staff that makes this initiative a top priority.”
Achieving the PCMH certification required much work and dedication by Clara Barton Clinic employees, but to them it was worth every minute in hopes that they will be able to provider an even higher standard of care for their patients into the future.
“As a physician, it has been a goal of mine to provide my patients with an enhanced level of care by working in a PCMH certified clinic, and I’m so very excited to have officially achieved that goal, “ said Webb. “As a PCMH provider, the bottom line boils down to having the capability to provide our patients with better care, provide them with better access, and to build even better relationships between our patients and their entire medical home team.”