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UTMB Family Medicine receives highest level of national certification in patient-centered care

Dec 17, 2016, 06:40 AM by Melissa Harman

The UTMB Health Department of Family Medicine is pleased to share that its three departmental practices—Family Medicine Clinic - Dickinson, Family Medicine Clinic - Island East, and Family Medicine Clinic - Island West—have received renewed recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Homes with an average scoring of 97 out of 100.

Practices that are recognized by NCQA have been found to use evidence-based, patient-centered processes that focus on highly coordinated care and long-term relationships between patients and care providers that encourage patients to actively participate in their care. 

The three departmental practices were first recognized by NCQA in November 2013. Beginning in 2017, NCQA will review recognition annually.

“For patients, what this means is a whole new level of personalized preventive primary care, with every member of the health care team from the receptionist to the medical assistant to the nurses and doctors working together in a new, coordinated way,” said Ann O’Connell, UTMB vice president for ambulatory operations.

Designed to strengthen bonds between patients and health care providers and increase effective preventive care, the patient-centered model is being adopted by progressive health care institutions nationwide as they strive to meet new standards.

Level three certification standards include short waiting-room times; full, unhurried attention from health professionals; specific protocols for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease; and an electronic medical record system accessible to everyone on the medical team as well as the patient and/or his or her family.

The medical home takes proactive measures to make sure patients with chronic conditions get to the diagnostic and specialist appointments they need. Not only does the medical home set up all these appointments for the patient, it makes sure the patient receives reminder phone calls about the appointments and it follows up with the patient if he or she misses an appointment.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment and I am proud of everyone who has been a part of this effort,” said Dr. Barbara Thompson, chairwoman of the Department of Family Medicine. “We have come a long way thanks to our wonderful hospital and health system partners.” 

According to research conducted by the NCQA, patients who receive their primary care from Patient-Centered Medical Homes have increased access to care and higher quality of care at lower cost. Research also shows that Patient-Centered Medical Homes reduce disparities in care for people with lower incomes.