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Group Health Cooperative shows investing in more primary care pays for itself
Date:6/17/2009

improvements in a system and a region that already compare well with the rest of the nation," Armstrong said. "Group Health and Washington state have relatively high-quality care and less overuse of hospitals. The pilot raised the bar even higher."

The Patient-Centered Medical Home pilot placed more emphasis on doctors and care teams proactively engaging patients in their health and investing more in care coordination. This resulted in more proactive phone visits, secure e-mailing, and more detailed face-to-face visits.

  • Physician panel sizes (the number of patients for whom each doctor is responsible) were reduced from 2,300 patients to 1,800 patients.
  • Appointment times were extended to 30 minutes, from 20 minutes.
  • Group Health increased its primary care staff by 30 percent to reduce physician-panel size and expand multidisciplinary clinical teams: doctors (family doctors and general internists), physician assistants, nurses, medical assistants, and clinical pharmacists.
  • Proactive staff-to-patient outreach increased, including clinical team analysis of each patient's needs, communication with the patient days before appointments, and detailed follow-up after it.
  • Use of e-health technology was maximized, including electronic medical records and increased contact with patients through secure e-mail and phone.
  • Decreased downstream utilization led to return on investment.

"These results lay the foundation for the initial return on investment to be extended in long-term cost savings well beyond the first year," said Michael Erikson, vice president for primary care administration. "We believe the reduction we saw in our care teams' burnout will result in less turnover and recruitment costs for physicians and other clinical staffperhaps up to $2 million dollars a year, across all recruiting areas for our primary care clinics," he added. "This addresses a fundamental area needed in health care re
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Contact: Mike Foley
foley.m@ghc.org
206-448-4148
Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies
Source:Eurekalert

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