A Change Will Do You Good

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. April Iacopelli
  • 17th Medical Operations Squadron
Last week, Lt. Col. David Zemkosky told you about some changes coming in the 17th Medical Group. I would like to explain more about one of those changes, the Family Health Initiative and the Patient Centered Medical Home. The Department of Defense, the Air Force Medical Service and even civilian medical care are moving toward the Patient Centered Medical Home. What is it? What will it mean for Goodfellow AFB and the folks who seek care at the medical group?

The concept of the Patient Centered Medical Home is not new. It has been used in civilian pediatrics practices since the 1960s. The idea is a place where patients can go to see a provider who is familiar with his or her medical needs. It is an effort to increase continuity in patient care as well as satisfaction for the patients and the providers. The Air Force has been moving toward this concept for several years. It began about a decade ago with Primary Care Optimization. This introduced the concept of providers having a specific group of patients enrolled to them. Patients were to be seen only by their assigned provider. Great concept but it did not quite succeed. The AF is now rolling out the Family Health Initiative. In order to achieve greater success with this new venture, a training team will come to Goodfellow in July and September to assist the staff in getting started with training and set up.

Let me get to what you really want to know. What will it mean to you? On the surface, you should see only minor changes. This initiative is starting only in the Primary Care Clinic so the name of the Primary Care Clinic is changing to the Family Medicine Clinic. Patients seen in Pediatrics or Flight Medicine will continue to be seen there as usual. The makeup of the provider teams in Family Medicine will change. Each team will be composed of a physician, a physician extender (physician's assistant or nurse practitioner), a registered nurse and five medical technicians. If you are unable to get an appointment with the provider you usually see on the team, you will be offered one with the second provider. The goal is to increase your ability to get an appointment in a timely manner. The plan to accomplish the goal includes changing our appointment schedules and training. The goal is to use each team member to his or her greatest potential.

A new and exciting addition is the role of a disease management nurse. This nurse will focus as a resource for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma to name a few. The disease management nurse will guide patients on how to manage their disease to get the most out of their treatment plan. The disease management nurse will work closely with the patient's provider to ensure the treatment plan (medications, diet, lab studies, etc) is working for both the provider and the patient. This nurse will serve as a liaison between the patient and provider to ensure the patient receives the care he or she needs and follow up visits are completed. I am very excited about this addition to the team as this nurse will bring a valuable resource to our patients with chronic diseases.

Although we are required to wait for the training team to arrive to fully implement the Family Health Initiative, the medical group is already making changes to prepare for a successful conversion in the fall. These changes may not be readily apparent as you come for care but will hopefully result in a smooth visit. I want to encourage your feedback on the process. We have comment cards placed throughout the clinic. You are also welcome to complete a survey online at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M9NJ23M or feel free to stop by and let us know how we are doing. Our patient advocate is Tech. Sgt. Charles Alloway and he can be found in Physical Therapy. I am located in the command section just across the hall from the Dental Clinic and I welcome your thoughts concerns and ideas. Together, we can work towards reduced stress and better health!