Patient-Centered Medical Home Improves Seattle Healthcare System's Delivery of Services

By Sederstrom, Jill | Drug Topics, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Patient-Centered Medical Home Improves Seattle Healthcare System's Delivery of Services


Sederstrom, Jill, Drug Topics


At Seattle's Group Health Cooperative, patient management is a team affair.

Primary care physicians, clinical pharmacists, nurses, and assistants all work together to meet the needs of patients through a patient-centered medical home approach. Structured around a thorough electronic medical records system, frequent patient communication, and regular medical team collaboration, this approach has been found to improve patient satisfaction and reduce clinician burnout rates and healthcare costs.

Charles Mayer, MD, MPH, a family physician at the nonprofit health system based in Seattle, Wash,, said one of the key elements of the medical home at Group Health is increased virtual communication with patients, whether that is through email or phone calls,

"It gives us the opportunity to have what we call more touches," Mayer said. "We actually schedule fewer face-to-face visits with providers but schedule more touches. We think that touches are going to improve health and also save costs,"

Pharmacists in the lineup

In this process of ongoing patient contact, clinical pharmacists have played an important role.

Jason Thams, PharmD, CDE, a clinical pharmacist at Group Health who works with Mayer frequently, said that he also is able to have regular contact with patients, either through virtual means or in face-to-face visits.

As a pharmacist, Thams regularly reviews patient charts and assesses the medications patients are taking. If patients should be receiving additional medications or might benefit from switching drugs, pharmacists at Group Health are able to e-mail the patients' physician to discuss the possible changes,

"They do a lot of review of the highrisk medicines that patients are taking and they'll e-mail us if they think that a patient needs to be [taken] off a medication, if it's too high risk. Or they'll recommend that we consider changing the medication," Mayer said.

Chronic disease management

Pharmacists also play a crucial role in the management of chronic disease, Mayer will outline the initial treatment plan for patients with chronic conditions and Thams helps to monitor their progress. For example, for a patient with type 2 diabetes, Mayer may recommend starting the patient with metformin. …

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