Trends in Healthcare—Why Access is Important
2014 has been an unprecedented year in health care, bringing national and state expansions of health care coverage to more people who were previously uninsured or and underinsured. In California, the influx of newly insured patients is predominantly coming through managed care health plans. Coupled with the aging population of Baby Boomers turning age 65, the health care industry is feeling the challenge of providing patients with timely access to primary care providers for basic health, wellness and preventive services.
Sutter Health Plus and Sutter Health are proactively working together to break down barriers to access primary care services. We’re proud of our pilot program partnering with Sutter Medical Group’s care centers, facilitating the new patient visits between new members and their primary care physicians (PCP).
Prior to the new patient visit with the PCP, our team of registered nurses conduct telephonic appointments with new members to complete much of the new patient registration and assessment, including medical and medication history. The nurses can enter this information in Sutter Health’s electronic health record system for use by the clinicians at the first visit. This program saves the member and the office staff a significant amount of time usually required for a new patient visit. It’s convenient and serves to free up time on PCP appointment schedules for more patient visits.
We continue to explore other opportunities with our plan partners to improve access for our members, including expansion of telehealth capabilities in 2015. We hope to be able use this innovative technology to serve our membership with barriers to accessing care in traditional brick-and-mortal offices, and to appeal to potential members as we look to expand through more rural areas.
I look forward to be able to provide you with news on our advancements in access in 2015!
By Jennifer Nuovo, Sutter Health Plus Chief Medical Officer