's a team concept

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Elizabeth Shaw
  • 49th Medical Operations Squadron commander
As we progress through life, it becomes increasingly evident that, in order to be successful, a certain amount of teamwork is required. For most of us, our success in life or in our career has been due to teamwork. We teach our children the importance of cooperation, teamwork and initiative. So, too, is the concept of teamwork and collaboration important for quality healthcare. The more patients are involved with their healthcare team, the more successful the team.

As of April 2012, the 49th Medical Group transitioned to a concept called Patient Centered Medical Home for Family Health and Pediatric clinics. Many of you have heard the term PCMH - but what does that really mean, and how does it affect you?
PCMH provides family health care that is relationship-based and centered on the whole person. Medical teams partner with patients and their families. The concept actively supports patients learning to manage and organize their own care. Each individual or family is assigned to a team consisting of at least two providers, a nurse, and technicians. These teams are trained to manage healthcare from "cradle to grave." The team gets to know their patients and families through continuity of care and a proactive approach toward preventive care. The pediatric teams are similarly structured. The teams also have additional support from disease managers, case managers, utilization managers, pharmacists, special needs coordinators, healthcare integrators, the Health and Wellness Center, and other educators who provide a multi-disciplinary approach to caring for the entire family.

You as the patient, play an integral role in the management of your own healthcare by committing to being an active participant. Gone are the days of blindly following medical advice. Today, healthcare workers strive to educate our patients so they are informed consumers with prevention of disease, illness or injury as their primary focus.
So, how do you and your family become active members of your PCMH team? It starts with you!

Ask questions, actually read the "Taking Care of Yourself" And "Taking Care of Your Child" books. Don't go straight to the emergency room if you can't get right in for an appointment. Ask to speak to your team nurse for advice. There are numerous free classes and online resources with prevention and disease related information. When you have an appointment with your team, be prepared. If labs or x-rays are required, arrange to have them accomplished before your appointment so the results will be available for your provider, thus avoiding unnecessary follow-up visits. Don't wait until the last minute to refill your medications. Keep a list of your medications - know what your medications are for and what the side effects are. Discuss with your team about possible drug and food interactions. Prioritize your concerns when you are with your team during your appointment. Follow your treatment plan and by all means take part in developing that treatment plan so you will be more apt to adhere to the therapy. Make sure you complete age appropriate screening tests such as immunizations, mammograms, pap smears, rectal exams, well baby exams and cholesterol checks - don't just throw away the reminder letters. If you have a referral for specialty care, call to make the appointment and show up for that appointment.

One of the most important things you can do is to follow up. Check on your test results and find out what the specialist recommended. Unfortunately, we can't always see the same provider or nurse because we move, we go on leave, and we get sick too. As part of your healthcare team, you can take an active part when you make sure your follow-up is on track.

Be on time for your appointments, and call to cancel if you can't make it. "No-shows" deprive others of the opportunity for an appointment. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. If you smoke, the best thing you can do to improve your overall and future health is to stop! Your PCMH team can help find a program that works best for you.

In March 2013, the 49th Medical Group will undergo two inspections: one by the Air Force Health Services Inspection Agency; and the second by the Accreditation Association For Ambulatory Health Care. The 49th MDG is currently fully accredited by this organization. Accreditation by AAAHC is a symbol of prestige and a mark of excellence which ensures that our organization complies with nationally recognized standards of care. During this inspection, one of the areas inspected is the patient centered medical home. The success of these inspections does not rest solely on the shoulders of the medical staff, but you as well, who are members of the healthcare team as well. Don't be surprised if inspectors ask you about your role in planning and implementing your healthcare.
Take an active role now to ensure quality healthcare for you and your family. Get to know your PCMH team, let them know you. Like our Facebook page to stay updated on current happenings and medical advice. Be a partner in healthcare. Be part of a winning team!