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How the Medical Home May Save Primary Care

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, September 6, 2013

The key to Anderson's plan was simple in theory if difficult in practice: Give back some time to the physician so that he or she could focus more on the patients and less on routine activities.

Others were empowered to enter information in the electronic medical record, for example. Nurses were given increased responsibility in the exam room. In short, Anderson was creating aspects of the medical home concurrently with the more famous authors of the system, although he didn't know it at the time.

His goal was simply rediscover the enjoyment of practicing medicine before being driven to quit it altogether. He wanted more quality time with his family, he wanted to know his patients, and he didn't want his nurses to quit because of "chaos."

The morning after those two nurses, who had been with him for 20 years, said they were going to leave, he asked them both to give him six months to redesign the practice. If they still wanted to leave after that, he said he'd probably walk out the door with them. They agreed.

"The key to medicine is having a physician who knows you and sees you when you need to be seen," says Anderson, who in his darkest hour in 2003, couldn't even guarantee that his practice would be able to open the next day, given his nurses' frustration. His book on this journey, The Familiar Physician, explores the transformation in depth and provides hope for the downtrodden primary care physician.

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