Patient-Centered Health Care

It might be called a return to the past in health care.

More and more health care providers are moving toward an overall concept in patient care.

Alegent Health was recognized for its Patient-Centered Medical Home program.

That's where the patient is an active participant in their care.

It's a concept that works for one Omaha couple.

Larry Englehardt has spent a lot of time in the health care system...diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's, he had two knee replacements, and open heart surgery.

But one recent visit to his doctor helped change that.

"The doctor asked us if we'd care to come to this diabetes clinic, Larry's wife of 58 years, Dot said. "We were both interested in it. I'm always willing to learn something that will help him."

It's called Patient-Centered Medical Home.

Several patients suffering from the same maladies meet with a variety of health care professionals.

Their health status is charted and personal needs discussed.

A peer group camaraderie also develops.

"Everybody's there for the same reason," Dot said. "They all had diabetes and they're all wanting to learn something that will be helpful to them."

Larry watched his diet and started getting some exercise.

"There has been a tremendous change in our lifestyle," he said. "Even when we go shopping we go shopping for the walking.

Larry no longer needs insulin, or one of his heart medications.

He also lost 55 pounds.

"The Patient-Care Medical Home is all about patient care," Dr. Lewis Eirinberg said. 'We're not about trying to figure out what happens in Washington D.C. We're about taking care of patients and taking care of them in a new model in a better and more efficient way. I truly believe that care coordination is the future of medicine.

Dr. Donald Frey, Vice President of Health Services at Creighton University said patient involvement has multiple benefits.

"It's a shift back toward the kind of care that was provided for years," he said. Managing their blood pressure with medication but also with other techniques as well such as diet and exercise is a lot better for them and certainly a lot less expensive than how we manage the complications of high blood pressure down the road."

"Being proactive and knowing some of the things you can do to help yourself has been very valuable to us," Dot Englehardt said.

Dr. Frey said all of the area's providers are moving toward patient-centered care.

And while it will never replace hospitals, it would streamline and personalize medical care.

As a segment of health reform, it is aimed at reducing overall health care costs.

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