Everyone can agree that medical care in the United States is in a state of rapid change. Medical providers and consumers struggle to keep pace with changes in technology, insurance, provider availability and standards of care. The direction at times appears uncertain, but improved patient-centered care must be the constant goal that we all strive toward.
The term "medical home" was first described by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1967 as an effort to improve care of children with special needs. The concept has been broadened to serve as a health care model for all children and adults. In the medical home model, patients have a primary care provider that works with a team of specialists and medical professionals to maximize health outcomes throughout the patient's life.
In the ideal medical home, patient care is accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family-centered, coordinated and culturally effective. The physician and patient should foster a partnership of mutual trust and responsibility that allows for medical needs to be met effectively in a caring and compassionate manner.
Regular preventative visits have become a recommended standard of care for everyone. As a result of health care reform, the majority of insurance companies provide preventive visits with your physician without a co-pay. This is the ideal time for patients to address their health care needs with their primary care physician.
Patients need to take initiative to schedule the preventive visit and to bring a list of health concerns and questions. Your primary care physician can address your acute as well as chronic medical needs.
Preventative measures that should be regularly discussed and addressed include nutrition, safety, psychosocial issues and immunizations. For children, growth, development and parenting concerns are also important.
As a bonus, the annual check-up also serves as the exam required by Kentucky High School Athletic Association for sports participation and school entry. This is also the time to complete forms for participation in camps, scouting and college admission.
The health care community of providers and consumers acknowledges the ever-changing medical arena. Wellness and health maintenance must be a priority. Patient-centered care with effective coordination of services is essential as we move forward, so be sure to take full advantage of your medical home to meet your needs in an effective manner.