Up until recently, my experience with the health care system is probably pretty similar to anyone else who’s had to bounce between hospitals and specialists: Frustrating.
I got passed from place to place like a hot potato. My doctors must have been big advocates of the trial & error method because that’s all we ever did. Try and err. New tests and new prescriptions were followed by more confusion, more drug resistance and more costs. Like most patients, I didn’t feel accountable for my health because I didn’t understand it. That was my doctors’ job – and I trusted them blindly.
A few years ago I moved to Michigan for a job at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. While working for Blue Cross, I kept hearing about our patient-centered medical home (PCMH) program. If a doctor’s office has certain characteristics or capabilities– like extended hours and personalized tracking of test results – they earn the designation as a PCMH practice. I wasn’t sure the designation mattered that much, but I was in the market for a new doctor so I figured I’d give it a try.
Fast forward a few months, and I’m mind blown at how different my experience has been. Here are some of the biggest reasons I love having a PCMH doctor:
- My doctor is my personal advisor. As my friends will tell you, I’m a bit obsessed with my doctor. She asks questions; digging past surface-level explanations I’ve been accepting all my life. She takes the time to explain things to me. Each time I visit her office, she follows up with a note that reviews what we discussed and provides next steps. Instead of just focusing on symptoms, she treats me as a whole person. A patient-provider relationship is central to the PCMH model. Your primary doctor is not just a disconnected medical textbook in human form. They’re a personal consultant and health coach.
- I completely understand each health care experience. Medical jargon is a foreign language that I don’t think I’ll ever master. But somehow my doctor helps me understand every single health experience. I finally know my “numbers,” and understand what they mean. Every time I’ve been sent to a test, I know exactly why I’m taking it and I’m able to have an educated discussion with the person administrating the test about what they’re seeing. When the results come in, I receive a copy in the mail with a note from my doctor explaining exactly what the results mean.
- There’s an entire team that has my back. I’m no longer on my own trying to navigate a fragmented health care system. If my doctor refers me to a hospital or specialist, my team makes the appointment on my behalf. After my appointment, my team will check in to see if I need anything. If I need a prescription, my team coordinates with my pharmacist so all I have to do is pick it up. If I need medical advice outside of office hours, I have 24-hour access to a clinical decision-maker. Instead of feeling like a nameless patient on a conveyer belt, I feel like the center of my own medical universe.
All in all, having a PCMH doctor made health care easy and stress-free. Instead of being alone and confused, I feel educated, empowered and informed. Can you say the same about your health care experience?
Want to learn more about Blue Cross’ PCMH program? Check out these blogs/videos:
- Blog: Growth in Blue Cross’ Patient-Centered Medical Home Program Shows Statewide Transformation of Care
- Blog: Collaboration Drives Patient-Centered Medical Home Adoption Across Michigan
- Video: Why Patient-Centered Medical Home is Good for Patients Health and Wellbeing
- Video: The PCMH Program at Cadillac Family Physicians
- Video: Packard Health’s PCMH Model Goes Beyond the Office Setting
Have a great story about your PCMH experience? Share it below!