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MD state health program promotes care for whole patient

The Washington Post, November 14, 2011

Personalized calls to patients are part of a new approach to primary medical care that Maryland is testing across the state. Instead of a doctor seeing patients mostly when they're sick — and the physician is getting paid for that visit or service — this program gives financial rewards to practices that use a team of doctors, nurses and other staff to treat the whole person on a continuing basis, not just for one illness. The team focuses on patients with chronic conditions, develops individual care plans, and coordinates with specialists. Emphasis is on prevention and comprehensive care. For a patient, it is like having a doctor's office that acts like mom — with nags and nudges designed to promote better health. The state initiative is among dozens of public and private experiments across the country that are trying to fundamentally change the way doctors practice medicine.