New idea: patient-centered healthcare

American health care, with or without the reform so desperately needed, seems headed in the direction of comprehensive care. For us patients — those of us fortunate enough to have coverage allowing us to be patients — part of this is having one doctor who really knows and follows your general condition. A century ago, before costs went through the roof and access to care went out the window, American health care worked that way.

At the California Wellness Foundation‘s Healthy Aging Conference in Los Angeles earlier this week the talk was all about “medical home“. Unwilling to risk a blatant display of ignorance I spent much of the morning frantically searching the speaker’s handouts for a clue about what a medical home might be. The speaker, it being early on in the event when my bewilderment arose, was keynoter John Rother, Executive Vice President of Policy and Strategy for AARP.

Though it was not in the handouts — the audience consisted largely of health professionals who presumably knew all this — I will clarify the medical home business here. With a little help from Wikipedia: “an approach to providing comprehensive primary care… that facilitates partnerships between individual patients, and their personal physicians, and when appropriate, the patient’s family.”

Rother’s power-point presentation, billed as “Moving Past Talk: the Challenge of Wellness” reviewed the state of U.S. health, health care and endangered health reform before getting to the medical home issue. When he did, he characterized the medical home as “more personalized delivery of services,” adding that the concept envisions that “someone’s in charge.” It enables hospitals and doctors to work more closely together, Rother said, and provides extra payments for primary care doctors.

Kaiser has this. Many of us enjoy this. Could we please find a way for the healthcare homeless of America also to find a medical home?