Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Branch Health Care Clinic China Lake Leads the Way in Patient Care

By Dan Barber, Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital
In December the Branch Health Clinic China Lake (BHCCL) received recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) achieving Level III recognition by demonstrating compliance and scoring high in all “must pass” elements of the nine respective NCQA standards.
Those standards are:
·         Access and Communication;
·         Patient Tracking and Registry Functions;
·         Care Management;
·         Patient Self-Management and Support;
·         Electronic Prescribing;
·         Test Tracking;
·         Referral Tracking;
·         Performance Reporting and Improvement; and
·         Advanced Electronic Communication
Included in these standards are 6 “must-pass” elements.  To get the achievement Level II recognition, practices must be validated in at least five of the elements.  Achieving Level II or III depends on overall scoring and compliance with all 6 “must-pass” elements.
Lt. Cmdr. Richard Stacey, Officer in Charge of the Clinic located at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, Calif., credits Lt. Cmdr. Christina Lumba, NC and staff for this achievement.  “Lieutenant Commander Lumba and many staff here worked many long hours including a lot of overtime to put together our successful presentation for the NCQA evaluation.”
In 2011, the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital started offering “Medical Home Port” … Navy speak for “Medical Home”…to enroll patients in to Primary Care at the Branch Health Clinic China Lake.
This model of health care delivery was mandated by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) so the very best possible health care could continue to be given to eligible beneficiaries in an efficient and cost effective way.
This health care delivery method was relatively new to some Navy health care providers at the time and to make sure that clinics were operating their Medical Home Port, according to standards set by BUMED, a tool was selected to measure those standards.  The tool selected was the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for Patient Centered Medical Home.
The Medical Home Port model allows patients to see the same team of providers each time they come in for medical appointments which allows the patients and the assigned team of providers and support staff to develop a patient-centered relationship which replaced a system where patients could be directed to any available health care provider.
The ultimate goal of the Medical Home Port is to allow continuity between patients and the assigned Primary Care Manager (PCM) as often as possible.  However, if the main provider is not available, another provider on the same team will deliver the care.    
In addition to medical providers, the team of healthcare professionals is also be made up of nurses, clerks, and Hospital Corpsman.  Patients are given the opportunity to know everyone on the team as well as they know their provider.  Many staff  at the hospital and at the BHCCL, believe this method of patient care provided by the Medical Home Port teams has established a patient-centered health care environment, which provides patients with more access to primary care and allows for longer appointments and better management of the patients medical issues.
 Medical Home Ports add continuity of care for patients even when the active duty providers deploy or transfer.  The combination of both civilian and military team members cultivates stability for the teams and patients when military members are transferred or deployed.
In addition to assigning patients to one of three teams at the hospital and at Branch Health Clinic China Lake, Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms offers Relay Health™ to all patients for an additional secure communications tool they can use to communicate directly with their health care team.
 Relay Health contributes to the success of meeting NCQA standards because it allows patients to request their lab results; request a medication refill; access health care information and allows them to create their own health care record to help manage their own care, all from the comfort of home.  Patients can also use Relay Health to request appointments with their Medical Home Port team.  
Congratulations to the Branch Health Clinic staff for this well deserved recognition in their efforts to provide patients with the highest standards in patient care.