By Bobbie LeBlanc

When you select a bank, you seek out the one that can provide you with the type of accounts that best suit your needs and the needs of your family. You look for the bank that has outstanding safety and service ratings – a bank that is always willing to discuss, without time constraints, your financial future and that places your thoughts and concerns at the top of its priority list. You want the bank that offers special services such as online banking, after-hours customer service assistance and mobile deposits. 

So shouldn’t you expect that same level of personalized service from your health care team? You should, and many of Louisiana’s health care providers are transitioning to the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model of care in order to provide you with it. 

The PCMH model is designed to put you, as the patient, at the center of your care – because really, as the patient, you are the most important person in your health care. And as such, you can work with your PCMH provider to coordinate a team of health care specialists – nurses, dieticians, cardiologists, oncologists, pharmacists, radiologists, et cetera – to develop a care plan that best fits your needs and the needs of your family.

The PCMH model of care has existed in the U.S. for more than forty years. It has evolved into a model of care in which you have a direct relationship with a health care provider who coordinates a team of health care professionals, takes responsibility for your care and arranges for appropriate care with other qualified providers as needed. This innovative care model is founded in the principles of health information technology (IT) and health information exchanges (HIEs) and other means designed to ensure that you receive the best care possible when and where they need it.

For you, as the patient, the PCMH model means greater access to your health care team. It means your doctor takes care of you, and not just when you’re sick. It means your care team works closely with you to make certain that you have the information necessary to make informed decisions about your health and your care, and that you have access to community resources and other tools that can help you take charge of your health.

But there’s so much more to the PCMH model of care. Do you need same- or next-day appointment scheduling? Do you need an appointment outside the traditional 9-5 office day? Do you want to ask your doctor a question via email? Do you want to access your personal health records electronically? Do you want your doctor’s office to call you with reminders about blood pressure or blood sugar screenings? Do you want to increase your access to preventive care?

If the answer is yes, you should speak to your doctor about the PCMH model of care. PCMH providers have the tools in place to offer these benefits to their patients. And early studies have shown that providers who have transitioned to the PCMH model of care have higher rates of patient satisfaction, enhanced care quality, fewer patient hospitalizations and reduced medical costs.

The goal of the PCMH model is to eliminate the days of waiting for weeks or even months to see your health care providers, to reduce the delays in finding out the results of your lab tests, and to make it unnecessary to schedule an appointment just to ask your doctor a single question. As a health care consumer, you can have the same level of service from your health care team that you’d expect from your bank and favorite retail stores, and the PCMH model of care is designed to ensure that you receive it.