Who needs a medical home?

Published 10:04 pm Friday, October 18, 2013

By Lula Holland

The medical home is both old-fashioned (introduced in 1967) and thoroughly modern. It is a blend of the personalized, comprehensive care that family physicians have been offering for decades and from which individuals with insurance continue to benefit greatly.

Today, new technology also helps insured patients make sense of the increasingly complex healthcare system.

Email newsletter signup

Individuals have a primary care physician specially trained to provide first-contact, continuous and comprehensive care. This physician directs the team responsible for the ongoing care, and the patient is cared for at all stages of life: acute care, chronic care, preventive care and end-of-life care.

This healthcare is accessible, patient-centered, personalized, continuous, coordinated, compassionate and culturally responsive.

All information goes “home” — to one place — for review by the patient and the doctor. The medical home uses modern conveniences, such as email communication, quality ratings and pricing information and secure online tools to help manage health information. E-mail reminders are used for appointments and screenings.

Other support helps both the patient and his or her family manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension.

Patients are active participants in their own health and well-being.

They choose their healthcare providers (doctors, pharmacy, therapists, nutritionist, personal trainers and so on), who all collaborate with one another.

The Medical Society of Virginia estimates that tens of thousands of uninsured Virginians do not have medical homes. How do we close that divide and reduce disparities in care?

The best resources are the free clinics and the community health centers, and support of their efforts to build medical homes is crucial. These organizations provide care for patients regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.

Improving the quality of healthcare delivered by safety net providers can have a significant impact on disparities by promoting equity and ensuring access to high-quality care.

Everyone needs a medical home.

Retired Col. Lula Holland MSW, BSN, is a board member of the Obici Healthcare Foundation, a private foundation whose mission is to improve the health of people in the area by responding to the medical needs of the indigent and uninsured and by supporting programs that prevent illness and disease. Visit the Foundation’s website at www.obicihcf.org.