Patient-centered approach just what the doctor ordered for healthcare industry

of what appropriately instructed patients and families can do for themselves, he explains.

Berry says the application of information technology, team-provided care and alignment of skills with appropriate tasks are necessary to implement this principle. He points out as an example how the Mayo Clinic uses specifically trained non-physician providers for diabetes management after a physician conducts the initial evaluation and develops a care plan. The non-physician providers monitor the patients and involve the physician if necessary.

Another element of improving the healthcare industry involves recognizing that the current office visit model, with its allotted consultation time and face-to-face nature, often results in system overuse when patients only need to ask several quickly answered questions. It also results in system underuse when a 20-minute timeslot prevents the physician from covering all of the relevant issues with a patient, he notes.

Berry believes innovations - some of which are already in practice - such as appointments with non-physician providers, group appointments with a care team when appropriate, telephone consultations when a patient-provider relationship already exists and better use of online technology can help better serve patients and providers.

Serving when service is needed is an important aspect of Berry's patient-centered access plan. He says untimely service from a first-choice physician often sends patients to alternate providers and even emergency rooms, imposing added cost and inefficiency on the healthcare system.

Berry recommends implementing an "advanced access model," which entails having about 50 percent of appointment slots open at the start of the workday and eliminates the distinction between urgent and routine care, enabling most patients to schedule their appointments close to their own needs and timetable.


Contact: Ryan A. Garcia
Texas A&M University

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