Branch Health Clinic leads the way in patient care

By DAN BARBER, Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital

The National Committee for Quality Assurance recently recognized the Branch Health Clinic China Lake for demonstrating compliance and scoring high in all “must-pass” elements of the nine NCQA standards.

Those standards are access and communication, patient tracking and registry functions, care management, patient self-management and support, electronic prescribing, test tracking, referral tracking, performance reporting and improvement and advanced electronic communication.

Included in these standards are 10 “must-pass” elements. For a clinic to achieve Level II recognition, practices must be validated in at least five of the elements. Achieving Level II or III depends on overall scoring and compliance with all must-pass elements.

Lt. Cmdr. Richard Stacey, officer in charge of China Lake’s clinic, credits Lt. Cmdr. Christina Lumba, NC, and staff for this achievement. “Lt. Cmdr. Lumba and many staff here worked many long hours, including a lot of overtime, to put together our successful presentation for the NCQA evaluation,” he said.

In 2011 the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital started offering “Medical Home Port” to enroll patients in primary care at the Branch Health Clinic.

The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery mandated this model of healthcare delivery so the best possible health care could continue to be given to eligible beneficiaries in an efficient and cost-effective way.

This healthcare delivery method was new to some healthcare pro-viders at the time.

To make sure that clinics were operating their Medical Home Ports according to standards, a tool was selected to measure those standards.

The Medical Home Port model allows patients to see the same team of providers each time they come in for medical appointments, which helps the patients and the assigned team of providers and support staff develop patient-centered relationships. That replaced a system where patients could be directed to any available healthcare provider.

The ultimate goal of the Medical Home Port is to allow continuity between patients and the assigned primary care manager as often as possible. If the main provider is not available, another provider on the same team will deliver the care.

In addition to medical providers, the team of healthcare professionals is also made up of nurses, clerks and a hospital corpsman. Patients are given the opportunity to know everyone on the team as well as they know their provider.

Many staff at the hospital and at the local clinic believe this method of patient care provided by the Medical Home Port teams has established a patient-centered healthcare environment that provides patients with more access to primary care and allows for longer appointments and better management of patients’ medical issues.

Medical home ports add continuity of care for patients even when the active-duty providers deploy or transfer, thus cultivating stability for the teams and patients.

In addition to assigning patients to one of three teams at the hospital and at Branch Health Clinic, Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms offers Relay Health to all patients for a secure communication tool they can use to communicate directly with their healthcare team.

Relay Health contributes to the success of meeting NCQA standards because it allows patients to request their lab results, request medication refills, access healthcare information and create their own healthcare records to help manage their own care, all from the comfort of home.

Patients can also use Relay Health to request appointments.

Story First Published: 2013-01-16