Rader Clinic leads way in primary care, patient choices
April 20, 2012
By Rhonda Apple
Andrew G. Rader Army Health Clinic on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will host an open house April 25 from 12 to 2 p.m. and is open for all those eligible for enrollment at Rader Clinic. Staff will share with its beneficiaries and leadership [from multiple partner agencies in the National Capital Region] Rader's recent endeavors to improving the quality of care the clinic provides and the customer service with which it provides that care.
"The reality is in today's environment, beneficiaries have choices on where to receive their health care," said Lt. Col. Jenifer Meno, commander of Rader Clinic. "We want to be their clinic of choice. We've been focusing on providing care as a team, transforming our relationship with patients and not only providing healthcare but also focusing on health."
With about 10,500 patients currently enrolled at Rader, Meno said the clinic would like to increase the number of enrollees to 13,000.
One of the initiatives, driven by the U.S. Army Medical Command, is for all outpatient clinics to achieve recognition as a Patient Centered Medical Home by the National Center for Quality Assurance. Rader was one of the first Army facilities to obtain this recognition in December 2011. PCMH is a fundamental culture shift on how the patient's primary care team collaborates to provide comprehensive, integrated, proactive and prevention-based medicine. "The open house is a celebration of our certification since we're the only clinic in the National Capital Region which has it," said Meno.
"Conventional medical practice has been to focus on curing sickness and less on maintaining wellness," said Dr. Jennifer C. Blake, chief of primary care. "PCMH primary care team collaboration with beneficiaries works to prevent acute illness through proactive and regular communication with the patient through both the virtual and traditional delivery platforms." She said focusing on the team approach of taking care of the patient and prevention is more proactive with the patient and their care.
Along with improvements in the quality and continuity of primary care, the MEDCOM nursing initiative, Patient Caring Touch System (PCTS), challenges Army nursing to ride the wave of healthcare change, focusing on the nurse's role in guiding and enhancing the patient's care experience. Comprised of five core elements, PCTS builds on the ability of Army medical personnel to provide state of the art medical care by focusing all team members on the patient.
Rader Clinic Nurse Manager Sheila Wilson said PCTS is a nursing driven proponent that dovetails with PCMH. "The intent is that Army medicine is going from a healthcare system to a system of health. What we do with patient caring touch is a total nurse-driven program. The intent is to implement a set of standards for quality including patient care and nursing satisfaction. It helps in increasing and enhancing communication."
Wilson said with PCTS implemented across all of MEDCOM, nursing practice is standardized, based on evidence-based practices by organizing the nursing staff so they have the patient at the center of nursing care, which falls under PCMH. "By standardizing our practices as to how we deal with patients at facility A, we can do the same thing at facility B, so it's evidence based. It's geared toward patient safety, nursing satisfaction, patient satisfaction and provides better quality nursing care and enhances the scope of nursing practice," said Wilson. She added this system will benefit the servicemember and their Family, by giving them better and safer care. "There should not be a variance between nurses, so the care and the approach will be the same."
Meno explained Rader Clinic's focus has been transitioning to more of a team approach with the patient and their health care, focusing on the patient's overall health as well.
"The staff at Rader want to focus on what they can do to make a difference in a patient's health care, and the focus is on more of preventive care versus reacting, for example, to [a patient's] diabetes, when we should have already addressed it. That's the focus. We want folks to know this is how we're doing it, now when you come to our clinic it's not a provider appointment, but actually a team appointment."
Rader's Primary Care Clinic has two teams, Patton and Bradley. Pediatric enrollees are on team Rader. "You'll be assigned to your primary care provider, which could be a physician's assistant or a nurse practitioner or a physician, working together with your team that could be a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or medic, working so we can find out how we can help [the patient] on prevention … asking the questions and get those questions answered," said Meno. She said the team also includes a dietician, pharmacist and behavioral health expert.
Those enrolled at Rader have more opportunities to speak with members of their healthcare team. "Patients will be able to phone the clinic and talk to whoever is in charge of the team. The response may be from the physician or the nurse who has been working with that doctor," said Meno. Another form of patient to provider communication new at Rader is secured messaging, which allows a patient to email their provider to discuss healthcare concerns and issues. "We've opened it to our pediatric clinic and it's working well. We hope to open it to our primary care clinics in May."
Meno said the open house will include information tables and a tour of the primary clinic to show how the patient flow will operate with PCMH.