Have you heard the saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?" That's one of the key concepts behind the patient-centered medical home (PCMH), an approach to primary care that's coordinated, efficient and personal. The PCMH isn't a physical place; instead, it's a group of health care professionals who work together to care for you, led by your personal physician. The PCMH aims to improve health care through:
Emphasis on Prevention
If you own a car, you probably don't delay maintenance until it breaks down. Instead, you're careful to change the oil, check the water level and replace the tires regularly. The PCMH helps you develop a physician-patient relationship that works the same way. Your personal physician will conduct regular check-ups to identify potential health issues before they become crises. He or she will also discuss preventative steps you can take to protect your health. By taking a proactive approach to your health, you make it less likely you'll experience a health crisis that requires a trip to the emergency room.
Better Access to Services
Scheduling and making time for medical appointments can be a chore, but it shouldn't be. PCMH health care professionals give you alternatives to traditional doctor's office visits, like consultations by telephone or email. They'll also offer extended hours and open scheduling so you don't have to wait as long to get an appointment.
Lower Health Care Costs
The PCMH saves patients money because the emphasis on preventative medicine makes it less likely you'll need expensive emergency room care. You can also get assistance with questions about medication costs and insurance through the PCMH. Finally, since your personal physician is helping coordinate your care, you won't receive unnecessary tests, prescriptions or treatments from health care professionals who aren't as familiar with your health situation.
Whole-Person Approach to Care
The PCMH is rooted in the idea of a whole-person approach to health care. Since your personal physician is your consistent go-to person for health concerns, he or she will become deeply familiar with you and your health history. Having a strong relationship with your primary-care physician will empower you to make good health choices. And if various health professionals are involved in your care, they'll benefit from having a colleague - your personal physician - who can fill them in on your individual health situation.