By: Alina Pabin
Last year, I was having problems with my back. I went to see an orthopedic surgeon, a type of doctor who specializes in diseases and injuries that involve muscles and bones.
I explained the pain I was feeling, and my doctor opened up my electronic medical record to review my health history. He pulled up a CT scan that was in my file from a time I went to the emergency room for a completely different reason.
The CT scan let him see my spine and make a diagnosis, without referring me to get the same imaging done a second time. I avoided unnecessary (and potentially harmful) radiation, saved money, and my doctor was able to immediately turn his attention to what was most important: helping me resolve my back problems.
This is just one example of why it is so important that doctors are able to share and access information across different points of care.
Historically, each doctor would see a different piece of your unique health care puzzle depending on your need. Podiatrists saw your foot history. Otolaryngologists saw your ear, nose or throat history. A psychiatrist saw your mental health history. Now, tools like electronic medical records and e-prescribing put the pieces together so doctors have an entire picture of your health, allowing them to make more informed decisions and health care recommendations.
In addition, these tools often connect us – the patients – to our own information. Some hospitals and doctors assign patients to a portal, which acts as your window to your health information. My patient portal is my one stop shop to see my completed tests, tests that need to be scheduled, lab information and more. I see my electronic records online, and request a refill for my prescription with the click of a button. I get a notice from my pharmacy once the script has been filled, and all I have to do is pick it up.
Not only does e-prescribing make my life easier, but it also prevents prescription errors. If you’ve ever seen your doctor’s handwriting, you might know first-hand why it’s safer to fill prescriptions electronically rather than through a handwritten script.
All in all, better coordination of care means better care. And the benefits go beyond just one patient’s experience.
If my orthopedic surgeon hadn’t been able to access my health file, he would have had to order the same test that I had already done in the emergency room. These types of unnecessary or duplicative tests can clog up the health care system, making it more cumbersome for the people who truly need it. They also drive up health care costs – which can impact our tax dollars and health insurance premiums.
Improved coordination of care is something that matters to everyone in Michigan. That’s why Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has been encouraging connectivity among providers for the past decade. Blue Cross provides incentives to hospitals and physician organizations across the state to support health care improvements in Michigan. Blue Cross doesn’t dictate how they use the incentives, but it encourages doctors to adopt systems that electronically connect different points of care, like electronic medical records or disease registries.
Want to get involved?
If you want to take advantage of health care transformation efforts in Michigan, look for a doctor that is “PCMH-designated.” Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) designation program is the nation’s largest of its kind. Not only is there significant data that shows how this PCMH program is lowering unnecessary use of health care services, but patients love their PCMH doctor, saying that it makes their health care experience “easy and stress free.”
To search online for a Blue Cross PCMH-designated physician, go to bcbsm.com and click on “Find a Doctor.” Then, click on “Dental, Vision and other Directories” toward the bottom of the page, for a list of PCMH-designated physicians. The full list of doctors who received the Blues’ PCMH designation is available here.
For more information of health care transformation in Michigan, visit valuepartnerships.com.
Like this blog? You may also be interested in reading these:
- Research shows PCMH model improves cancer screening rate, narrows disparities
- Growth in Blue Cross’ Patient-Centered Medical Home Program Shows Statewide Transformation of Care
- Collaboration Drives Patient-Centered Medical Home Adoption Across Michigan
Alina Pabin is a member of the Value Partnerships department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She works with a cross-functional team to manage a portfolio of physician incentive programs designed to improve health outcomes for Blues’ members. Alina received her graduate degree from Wayne State University and is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ). Alina is known for her ongoing commitment to partnering with the provider community. She lives in Detroit, Michigan with two dogs and is an avid athlete.
Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan