Almost eight years ago, CDPHP® noted a sharp decline in the number of graduating medical students choosing to go into primary care. This was troubling for many reasons, including the fact that a primary care physician (PCP) is often thought of as a patient’s medical home. That is, the place where physicians and their team provide comprehensive care to patients and families, and give them the support they need to make decisions and participate in their own care. To preserve and strengthen primary care services, while improving the value and quality of care for our members, CDPHP launched the Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) initiative.
The EPC Model – A Health Care Breakthrough
A guiding principal of EPC is that each patient has an ongoing relationship with their doctor, who will provide preventive care and health guidance, as well as care for their acute and chronic illnesses. The model supports the primary care practice to provide care based on the needs of each patient, allowing physicians the freedom to practice in the way that is best for them and their patients. To acclimate to this model, CDPHP provides training to physician offices, and works with clinicians to implement new ways of serving patients better. These can include the following:
- More time with your doctor. Have you noticed that your PCP visits no longer feel so rushed? You may have also picked up on the fact that your doctor is asking more probing questions, and making sure you’ve discussed everything you wanted to before ending your appointment. Visits with EPC doctors are longer!
- Easier access to appointments. For your convenience, earlier morning or later evening appointments may now be offered at EPC locations. Walk-in office hours for established patients one or two evenings per week may have also been implemented.
- The ability to email or text your doctor. When you visit your PCP, you may now be asked if you signed up for their patient portal. A patient portal enables you to communicate with your provider via email, when an office visit isn’t absolutely necessary. It can also offer you the opportunity to review notes from recent visits, request prescription refills, update contact information, pay bills online, and more. If you have a condition that is well-managed via electronic communication with your doctor, it may also help you limit your office visits, and focus on enjoying the things you love.
- Patient Advisory Councils. To gain a better understanding of what patients are looking for from their doctors, many EPC practices have started patient advisory councils. These groups meet on a regular basis to provide feedback on the patient experience. From there, change is initiated and implemented.
- Electronic medical records. Coordination of care is imperative to a patient’s overall well-being, which is why electronic medical records (EMRs) are so critical. CDPHP is a strong supporter of Hixny—Healthcare Information Xchange of New York—a local not-for-profit consortium that is helping doctors gain secure online access to their patients’ electronic medical records. Doctors who have access to a patient’s whole health picture are far better equipped to treat them. If you have been asked to sign a release of information form, your PCP office has probably moved to an EMR system. Records are only accessed by trained professionals in an effort to deliver better care.
The (Ongoing) Results
In 2014, CDPHP concluded a year-long study on the effects of the EPC model, which produced impressive quality results. From 2010 to 2014, EPC sites showed significant improvements on a series of quality measures that included breast and colorectal cancer screenings, childhood immunizations, childhood well visits, and more. Throughout the analysis, quality scores for EPC sites rose from 71 to 77 percent. During the same time period, quality scores for non-EPC sites rose from 65 to 68 percent. The findings prove that EPC sites are not only performing at a higher level than non-EPC sites, but they are improving at a faster rate.
From 2012 to 2014, CDPHP also realized a cost savings of $20.7 million directly related to the EPC program.
Take the Next Step
You can search for an EPC provider using Find-A-Doc. This symbol will appear next to participating doctors’ names . CDPHP remains committed to helping patients and their physicians receive and deliver the best possible care.