Jan. 13, 2012 OHA Director's messages on the web
To: All OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

It's about the people

"The time is always right to do what is right."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes when we talk about transforming health care, the conversation can get lost in discussions of big systems, big dollars, and big changes.

But really, it's all about people. It's about the people who receive care and those who give it. It's also about what we do as a state to connect them and make sure that people can receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place.

Last week I told the story of a little boy with asthma who has been able to avoid the emergency room thanks to a community health care worker who went to his home and helped his family create a safe environment free from the triggers that caused him to go into distress.

This week I want to talk more about what providers are doing to provide this kind of care across the state and what we as an agency are doing to help.

One key strategy for getting to better health is the "primary care health home" model of care. This is a way to set up health care at the patient level simply to ensure that they have what they need when they need it.

Primary care homes offer a team-based approach to care that is centered on keeping people healthy. This type of care focuses on having strong relationships with patients and their families to better treat the whole person. Providers reduce costs and improve care by catching problems earlier, focusing on prevention and wellness, and integrating behavioral health care.

The state is helping providers move toward this model by creating a recognition program that lays out the criteria for primary care homes and provides technical assistance for practices across the state.

Criteria include things like having evening office hours, electronic health records, or dental or mental health providers on site. There's a three-tier recognition program to help providers get credit for the work they are doing today and make improvements moving forward.

Since this program launched late last year, more than 80 clinics already have applied to be officially recognized by the state as primary care homes.

While the primary care health home recognition program is for all types of providers, this type of care will also be central to lowering costs in the Oregon Health Plan. Under the proposed coordinated care organization plan, patient-centered primary care homes will be a required element of any health system's provider network. To learn more, or to find application forms and technical assistance go to www.primarycarehome.oregon.gov.

Better health, better care, lower costs. Every day we get closer to realizing the vision that was created with the Oregon Health Authority.

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