Magazine article Workforce Management

Hopes Soaring for Seattle Test Program

Magazine article Workforce Management

Hopes Soaring for Seattle Test Program

Article excerpt

Innovator Boeing

Nearly two years after employees at Boeing Co. fought the company's plan to create a network of what it called "high-performance doctors," management is in the midst of another experiment to change the way employees receive health care.

The Chicago-based aircraft maker has pilot projects at three Seattle-area outpatient clinics that, if successful, would improve care for people with more severe chronic illnesses. Boeing's model, known generally as the "medical home," is being adopted by several large employers throughout the country - including IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y., and Hannaford Brothers Co., Portland, Maine - as a more effective way to provide and pay for primary care.

"We don't reward a system in which comprehensive coordinated care and robust prevention ... (are) valued," said Paul Grundy, director of health-care technology and strategic initiatives for IBM.

The medical home could change that. Though no exact definition exists for it, the medical-home concept generally involves paying primary-care doctors extra to spend more time managing a patient's health.These efforts include:

* coordinating care among a patient's team of specialists;

* providing patients with immediate phone, e-mail and inperson access to health-care professionals;

* using electronic health-care records to avoid errors and duplication of services;

* following commonly accepted guidelines of care; and

* using a team of primary-care doctors to evaluate and improve patient care.

The hope is that paying doctors more to provide better health care for sicker people will improve patient health and reduce overall health-care costs.

Boeing's effort applies lessons learned in a hospital intensive care unit The company is developing three pilot programs at outpatient clinics in the Seattle area - Virginia Mason Medical Center, Valley Medical Center and the Everett Clinic. …

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