BY DAVID NICHOLAS
The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, officially becomes the law of the land today.
Before ObamaCare became a household term, doctors were already working with Michigan’s largest insurer to deliver better services to patients.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan continues to add medical practitioners to their “Patient Centered Medical Home Program.”
Simply defined, PCMH is designed to change the way doctors care for patients.
Since adopting the national model five years ago, Michigan has become the largest program in the country, now with over 3,700 physicians and over 1,200 physician practices enrolled in PCMH.
A team approach is used in treating patients, more technology is utilized to access information and, according to Tom Leyden of Blue Cross Blue Shield, the personal access to one’s doctor is key.
Many practices, Leyden said, are now offering evening or weekend hours, and in some cases, twenty-four hour access to a clinical decision maker.
Dr. Paul Simmons is an internist with a medical practice in Mt. Pleasant and a member of PCMH.
When I visited his office, I noted the manual of PCMH guidelines in clear view on the shelf above his desk.
He told me the move to a more extensive use of medical records has improved his level of efficiency.
Dr. Simmons and Tom Leydon of BCBS shared the belief that Michigan, with initiatives like PCMH, has been, in Leydon’s words, in front of many of the federal mandates associated with Obamacare.
“Amidst the backdrop of this changing face of healthcare comes a new group of medical practitioners, the first students to Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine,” Simmons said.
Founding Dean Dr. Ernie Yoder said the inaugural class of sixty-four students began their studies this fall with Patient Centered Medical Home as part of their program.
Blue Cross Blue Shield officials also emphasize that along with what they tout as improvements in the level of patient care under PCMH comes cost savings.
They recently announced savings of an estimated $155 million over the first three years of the program based, they say, on calculations made from an analysis published in the Health Services Research Journal.