At its core, Remaking American Medicine is a glimpse into the type of health care we can all have. It is about the pioneering work of providers, patients and their families, private purchasers, government agencies and others committed to making health care in America safe, evidence-based, efficient and effective. We call these people and organizations Champions of Change. Because there are many more stories about these groups and individuals than can be told in a four-hour television series we’ll be featuring them here and in other areas of the Web site. Learning from others is an important aspect in the drive to remake American medicine. At the conclusion of each Champion of Change story is contact information provided for follow up.
Michael K. Magill, MD, is the Executive Medical Director of the University of Utah Community Clinics in Salt Lake City. Board Certified in Family Medicine, he is also Chairman of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University.
The Community Clinics are a 9-practice, 100-provider, multispecialty primary care network operated by the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics. The physicians and administration of the clinics have made it a priority to provide the highest quality of care for their patients. By systematically identifying and eliminating inefficiencies, they are improving patient services and increasing the quality of time physicians spend with each patient.
One of the ways they achieve these efficiencies is by instituting an electronic health record (EHR) system to track patient care. When patients schedule an appointment, their information is entered into a computer, eliminating the need to spend time filling in paperwork after arriving for their appointment.
Instead, a Medical Assistant (MA) greets them and takes them directly to the examination room, checks them in and begins taking the medical history using templates in the EHR examination. When completed, the MA calls the doctor in so that the patient is never left alone. While the doctor examines the patient and reviews symptoms, the MA records the examination.
Once the exam is complete, patients are given a computer print out summarizing their visit. They receive information on their vital signs, diagnosis, treatment and emergency phone numbers, if needed. Patients respond that they feel empowered by having this information and that they feel better informed about their own health care.
Because of the institutional changes implemented by the University of Utah
team, patient and staff satisfaction are very high in the redesigned practices. Dr. Magill says, “I am lucky to be surrounded by Champions: they are the ones who make changes to give best care to our patients.”
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