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The Importance of Having a Medical Home

Growing up it seemed natural that there were one or two doctors that knew you and when you needed help that’s who you called. I’m not sure if I felt this way because I watched too many TV shows about small town doctors or the fact that my mom would drive the 40 minutes from Sandy to Spanish Fork so we could see Dr. Foote, the same doctor she saw as a kid. I can still remember walking into Dr. Foote’s office and how the familiarity of the place made going to the doctor a little less scary.

As an adult, having moved multiple times while in the Navy, I’ve come to realize how difficult this idealized version of patient centered care can really be. With so many competing demands on our time and resources it is no wonder that our medical care becomes fragmented between emergency rooms, urgent cares and often over multiple medical practices.

Having read a great deal on this topic it is clear that as care has become more fragmented the cost of medical care has increased in the United States, but the outcomes of treatment have not improved. Many studies have shown that patients are more likely to receive unneeded testing, medications and treatment when they receive care from multiple sources.

In an effort to combat this trend the concept of a Medical Home was born with an ideal that every person should have a doctor’s office that knows them and that between the combination of the Doctors, Nurses, and Office Staff you are not just a patient, but one of our patients.  

The importance of seeing the same group of doctors in a medical home has been born out time and time again. Children with recurrent ear infections infections get recognized more quickly allowing for better prevention of future infections. Children with asthma have fewer visits to the emergency room and are less likely to be admitted to the hospital. Immunization rates go up and out of pocket costs go down.  

A lot of this benefit comes from the fact that once you are part of a medical home, more thought is put into creating a plan that looks multiple months to years ahead as opposed to just addressing the immediate problem. Also in those cases when things don’t go according to the expected plan it is much easier  to work with  the original doctor to make adjustments along the way. One final way the medical home helps is that  when you do happen to see another doctor in the group they have access to all of your records allowing them see established health care plan and what has already been done instead of having to start from the beginning.

One way I’ve seen this play out countless times is with asthma. I’ll treat the first episode of wheezing and difficulty breathing in my clinic, but then they will be seen in the Emergency Room for the next and then another in an Urgent care and by the time they circle back to see me they’ve been treated for 3 to 4 episodes of difficulty breathing. And despite being treated recurrently for these serious and at times scary episodes no effort was spent trying to find out if there was a way to stop future ones. I think this run around is why so many frustrated parents come to me feeling unempowered and not knowing what to do.

I’ve found that one of the best tools I have in treating any medical condition is ongoing follow up because it allows me to better understand how one person’s illness, life stressors and family situation may be different from someone else’s, and that the solution for one person is not the solution for everyone. When I’ve made a more difficult diagnosis, or found a rare disease it is often the passage of time and seeing what has occurred in between visits that made everything become clear.    

As a NCQA accredited Medical Home, Canyon View Pediatrics is dedicated to being here when you need us and making the vision of a Medical Home a reality.  Our hope is that by maintaining extended office hours (8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday thru Friday), offering Saturday appointments and making ourselves available for after hour calls you will always have place to come. On a closing note, on behalf of all the Pediatricians here at Canyon View Pediatrics I want to say thank you for allowing us to be part of watching your children grow up and allowing us to provide assistance along the way.   

Patrick McVey, MD

Canyon View Pediatrics

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