UT Health Physicians has been recognized for the sixth year in a row as a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Only practices that have proven their commitment to a patient-centered approach to care and continuous quality improvement and can earn this designation.
All of our UT Health primary care locations were awarded the Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition in 2021.
This rating reflects the dedication of a medical practice’s primary care physicians to providing proactive, compassionate care to patients.
“We’ve remained committed to patient-centered care and constant improvement during the COVID-19 pandemic. This recognition highlights our efforts,” said Ramon Cancino, MD, MBA, MS, FAAFP, director of primary care at UT Health Physicians. “The qualities NCQA looks for when awarding practices a Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition include using team-based care, ensuring patients have access to appointments or providers outside of regular business hours, excellent care coordination and consistent performance measurement. Our primary care locations tirelessly focus on these components because we know this framework leads to healthier patients and the best patient experiences.”
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 each patient’s specific health care needs. Patient-centered medical homes provide care that is proven to build better relationships with patients, improve their experience and reduce overall health care costs.
“Our Patient-Centered Medical Home model attends to all aspects of a patient’s care, from check-ups and immunizations that prevent disease to helping patients manage their chronic or hereditary conditions. This includes taking into consideration transportation and financial barriers that may impact a patient’s health so that we can best take care of all our patients.,” said Cynthia Cantu, D.O., medical director of the new UT Health De Zavala, set to open on Jan. 31. Dr. Cantu looks forward to continuing the PCMH model at the De Zavala location this year.
Research shows that Patient-Centered Medical Homes reduce most emergency room visits and hospitalizations because these practices provide easier access to patients at a location where they receive high-quality, reliable care before emergency care would be necessary. PCMHs also ensure patients, regardless of their location or income, can receive the health care they need.
How our patient-centered medical home benefits patients
Many studies have stated the importance of patients having a “home base” for their health care. This model ensures that when patients go to a doctor, whether it be a primary care physician or a specialist, providers will communicate with each other to make sure patients are receiving coordinated care. This can minimize cost and confusion for patients.
“Coordinated care is more efficient and allows for a patient’s entire care team to have access to their medical information,” said Joyce Yuen, D.O., UT Health Shavano medical director. “Through our secure patient portal, MyChart, a patient’s primary care physician and their specialists all have access to the same information, which helps ensure that no duplicate or unnecessary testing is done.”
This means that when patients visit UT Health San Antonio’s primary care physicians, they have a team of health care professionals working together to prevent problems and manage chronic conditions. The team can include many other clinicians, including care managers, community health workers, medical specialists, nurses, physical therapists, nurse educators, pharmacists, psychologists and occupational therapists.
“We bring in every aspect of care coordination,” said David Cadena, MD, UT Health Hill Country medical director. “Our Hill Country location is a multispecialty practice, where we offer primary care, physical therapy, lab work, imaging services, orthopaedics and other specialists. We understand that patients may not be able to spend an entire day going for lab work or getting X-rays taken. This approach allows our patients to get what they need all in one location.”
Access to care is an important component of the PCMH designation. UT Health primary care emphasizes the use of MyChart and after-hours appointment availability to provide reliable access to care when and where patients need it. Several of our locations offer early morning and late appointments, said Dr. Yuen. Through MyChart, patients can communicate with their care team.
Dedicated care throughout the pandemic
Starting in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges to patient care and team safety, so the UT Health primary care team implemented innovative services to continue to provide the highest level of care to patients, Dr. Cancino said.
“UT Health Physicians was able to quickly adapt to video visits to give our patients access to the care they need,” said Ellen Shrouf, PhD, behavioral health consultant, at the UT Health Medical Arts & Research Center location. “We also have been able to provide behavioral health services throughout the pandemic to ensure our patients have the support they need. This includes working with their primary care physician to simplify the process of setting up a consultation and receiving treatment.”
Throughout the pandemic, and still today, all primary care locations offer patients telemedicine/virtual visits to keep everyone healthy and safe. All locations also implemented strict safety and cleaning protocols including limited occupancy, masking requirements, enhanced disinfection practices and redesigned shared spaces to promote social distancing. The practices also added evening hours and weekend appointments to increase access. Many locations offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing for current patients, as well.
The NCQA PCMH recognition reflects the dedication of primary care teams, who consistently provide proactive, compassionate care to patients.
“The work we do is well above what is required to become a PCMH,” Dr. Cancino said. “We go above and beyond those requirements not because we gain recognition for doing so, but because it's part of the culture that we've developed. This recognition is a testament to the type of team members that we have at UT Health primary care. We go out of our way to help our patients and help each other. I am proud to be part of this team.”
To make an appointment at any of our NCQA-recognized primary care locations, visit https://www.uthscsa.edu/patient-care/physicians/primary-care.
To learn more about UT Health’s Patient-Centered Medical Home designation, click here.