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Better care means better health

Created date

June 13th, 2018
Erickson Living Health Medical Group providers support and practice patient-centered care.

Erickson Living Health Medical Group providers support and practice patient-centered care.

With a few exceptions, the basic philosophies and methods by which doctors care for patients haven’t changed much in the past few decades. But on Erickson Living campuses, there are several crucial differences practiced by Erickson Health Medical Group (EHMG) providers that have been shown to be beneficial to peoples’ health.

Accessibility

Scheduling an appointment the same day or getting in touch with your doctor by phone has always been a hit-or-miss proposition for many patients. In fact, some providers have initiated  so-called concierge care programs, in which patients pay extra for the privilege of guaranteed same-day appointments and round-the-clock telephone access to their doctor.

EHMG doctors believe accessibility is a right, not a privilege, and more than just a convenience. “We believe fast access to care greatly increases the chances for better health outcomes,” says John Marcelis, M.D., regional medical director for Erickson Living and medical director at Ann’s Choice, an Erickson Living community in Bucks County, Pa. “At our medical centers, we have plenty of same-day appointment slots available for those times when an unexpected health problem comes up, and we can arrange a home visit if necessary.”

No matter where you live on campus, your provider can follow. “We care for residents in all areas, whether it is independent living, assisted living, or in the continuing care community,” Marcelis says.

And because unexpected health needs do not honor business hours, EHMG doctors are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “Some medical practices use outside contractors to cover off hours calls,” Marcelis says. “Our staff providers are always available either in person or on the phone.”

Care coordination

Most seniors see more than one doctor, and sometimes it can be a challenge to fit in, much less travel to, all those appointments. In addition, there is no way to know if all your doctors are on the same page when it comes to your treatment plans. Research shows that fragmented care can result in medical errors.

“All EHMG providers work as an interdisciplinary team,” Marcelis says. “We have core providers in the medical centers, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, and behavioral health specialists. In addition, we have added a licensed clinical social worker, which is an extremely valuable addition to the team, and something you won’t get in all geriatric practices.”

Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) are a type of social worker with advanced education and training, typically in a particular subspecialty. LCSWs who work with older adults are knowledgeable about the needs of seniors and adept in coordinating care. They can help with issues related to emotional health, long-term care, functional needs, quality of life, and advance care planning.

EHMG doctors take the initiative when communicating with outside specialists who care for Erickson Living residents. More specialists are seeing patients on campus, too, which facilitates accuracy and consistency of treatment plans. “Currently, we have several specialists available and plan to add more,” Marcelis says. “It varies somewhat among communities, but there are dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, audiologists, dermatologists, and some others that see residents in the medical centers. The specialists can see firsthand how we care for residents, and this helps increase quality and consistency of treatment.”

Extra time with your doctor

A typical doctor’s office has 10- to 15-minute appointment slots allocated for regular patient visits, which can be an insufficient amount of time to attend to all of a patient’s concerns. “Our regular appointment slots are at least 30 minutes,” Marcelis says. “This gives providers time to develop partnerships with patients and families. We can address the main medical problems and also have discussions about issues affecting residents.”

One important issue that requires extra attention is medication. Studies show that about one in five medicines prescribed to seniors are potentially inappropriate, and some can be harmful. Adverse events related to medicines are responsible for about 700,000 emergency room visits every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We conduct a thorough assessment and reduce or try to completely eliminate high-risk medications our patients are taking,” Marcelis says.

The goal: patient-centered care

All differences in EHMG care support patient-centered care. According to the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, patient-centered care emphasizes respect for patient values in individual care decisions and the role of patients and families as advisors and partners in improving care practices. Patients are more likely to adhere to a treatment plan if they have an active part in developing it.

“Shared decision-making is an important part of our care model,” Marcelis says. “Our providers discuss risks and benefits of treatments with our patients and their caregivers so they can make informed decisions.”

There are many reasons patient-centered care is the cornerstone philosophy at EHMG. “All elements have been shown to improve quality of care and result in better health outcomes,” Marcelis says. “But regardless of how it affects peoples’ health, EHMG providers believe the patient-centered model is the best way to practice medicine because of the tremendous respect we have for our residents.”

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