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How the Medical Home May Save Primary Care

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, September 6, 2013

Far from a technology Luddite, Anderson was adept at using an EMR Hilton Family Practice way back in 1998 as part of the Riverside Medical group, a network of more than 80 practice locations and 325 board certified physicians and other providers in Newport News, VA.

But the EMR in his practice was adding workload without any increase in patient throughput. He had a Eureka moment one night while reviewing charts at 3 a.m. He realized it wasn't technology and the payer systems that were dragging him down—at least not fully. It was his lack of foresight in changing his practice's processes. Anderson, like many of his colleagues, knew there had to be a better way.

"This has created a tremendous amount of burnout in physicians today," he says.

He began experimenting with creating a better way to practice primary care, and it began by letting go a little bit. By now his techniques are common knowledge and frequently implemented in the journey toward patient centered medical home status, but in 2003, when he began to transfer more authority to his nurses through a team-driven approach to primary care, he was on the cutting edge, along with Paul Grundy, MD, and Michael Sepulveda, MD, who at the same time were working on the same problem for IBM.

Grundy has since become known as the "godfather" of the patient centered medical home, and, in a gross oversimplification, has pioneered physician practice transformation that focuses on the patient and delegates tasks that used to be the exclusive territory of MDs to non-physicians. The PCMH model also puts a lot of emphasis on the power of preventive medicine.

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