For the fifth consecutive year, UT Health Physicians has been nationally recognized for our dedication to providing excellent primary care. All six of our primary care locations have been awarded the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) rating from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).
The patient-centered medical home model is considered the best model of primary care because it ensures every patient is cared for by a team of medical professionals dedicated to evaluating and treating their specific health care needs. Patient-centered medical homes provide a care model that is proven to build better relationships with patients, improve their experience and reduce overall health care costs.
“This year’s patient-centered medical home recognition highlights the fact that our primary care practice, despite the pandemic, was able to remain committed to patient care and continuous improvement,” said Ramon Cancino, M.D., M.S., director of primary care at UT Health Physicians and UT Health Hill Country medical director. “The qualities the committee looks for when awarding practices with patient-centered medical home designation include using team-based care, consistent performance measurement, access to appointments or providers, and excellent care coordination. Day in and day out, each of our primary care locations focuses on these components because we know it leads to healthier patients and the best patient experiences.”
Patient-centered medical homes reduce patients’ avoidable emergency room visits and hospitalizations because they provide easier access for receiving quality, reliable care, research shows. They also ensure people, regardless of location or income, can receive the health care they need.
Committed to a higher standard of care
UT Health Physicians is committed to a higher standard of care, said Jessica Blower, M.D., UT Health Westover Hills medical director.
“From caring for our patients’ sudden illnesses and injuries to managing their lifelong medical needs, we consider all aspects that could potentially impact their health, including lifestyle, medical history, social barriers, transportation barriers, financial barriers and medication understanding,” Dr. Blower said. “We look beyond just the face-to-face visit and think about all things that could affect a patient’s ability to follow a treatment plan and to achieve their highest level of health.”
Complete care coordination
A key component of the patient-centered medical home model is care coordination, which ensures that primary and specialty care clinicians effectively share information and manage patient referrals to minimize cost, confusion, and inappropriate care.
“We are leaders in care coordination because, beyond our primary care offices, we are connected to a wealth of medical specialists,” said Kaparaboyna Kumar, M.D., UT Health Verde Hills medical director. “Our patients don’t have to go to an entirely different practice to get their specialty care. They can get it all right here, where their specialist knows their primary care doctor and can see all the lab work, doctors’ notes and imaging within the same electronic medical record.”
To be recognized as a patient-centered medical home, each primary care location submitted an annual report outlining its care programs and patient health outcomes to the National Committee for Quality Assurance. The report included evidence of performance in various areas that support a Patient-Centered Medical Home model of care.
“The work we do easily goes above and beyond what is required to become a PCMH,” Dr. Cancino said. “We go above and beyond not because we gain recognition for doing so, but because it's part of the culture that we've developed here. Providing value-based care is very important, and that is a testament to the type of doctors that we have at UT Health Physicians.”
Persistence through a pandemic
A UT Health staff member conducts visitor temperature checks.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges to patient care in 2020, so the team at UT Health Physicians streamlined services to continue to provide a high level of care, Dr. Cancino said.
“To maintain our patient-centered medical home status during this pandemic, knowing that our physicians and staff likely had their own personal stressors to contend with, is evidence of the culture of teamwork, selflessness, and dedication that was present long before the pandemic and will be even stronger in the years following the pandemic—our team ensured that our patients came first,” Dr. Cancino said.
Throughout the pandemic, all primary care locations offered patients telemedicine visits to take care of patients’ acute and chronic medical care. Appointment availability was increased with evening hours, weekend care, and a first-ever on-demand urgent care service to quickly care for patients through a virtual visit. A team was established to focus on reaching vulnerable patients and ensure their medical and social needs were being met. Each location designed new procedures for disinfecting shared spaces and practicing and enforcing social distancing to keep patients and staff safe.
“Patients deepened their trust in our safety measures and understood that if they needed to come in for a visit, it was a safe environment,” Dr. Blower said. “After the first few months of the pandemic, patients wanted to come into the clinics again and were comfortable with choosing a face-to-face appointment.”
UT Health Physicians’ Patient-Centered Medical Home designation gives current and potential patients assurance that they are receiving the best possible primary care, Dr. Kumar said.
“We give patients the right care, at the right time and the right place so they get all the benefits of expert care in a seamless manner,” he said. “We believe in compassionate and timely care. That’s always at the top of our thinking — patients come first.”
To make an appointment, visit https://www.uthscsa.edu/patient-care/physicians/primary-care.
To learn more about UT Health’s Patient-Centered Medical Home designation, click here.