Here is testimony from a patient that not only works in the healthcare industry, but also has a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) designated doctor and how that choice helped them understand how to really know their health.
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 and 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 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. I hopped on Blue Cross’ Find a Doctor tool and found myself a local PCMH-designated physician.
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?