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Patient-centered care improving satisfaction

Capt. Erin Brown, 21st Medical Group family nurse practitioner and a member of Team Ajax, one of six PCMH teams in the Peterson Family Health Clinic, provides care to one of her enrollees. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capt. Erin Brown, 21st Medical Group family nurse practitioner and a member of Team Ajax, one of six PCMH teams in the Peterson Family Health Clinic, provides care to one of her enrollees. (U.S. Air Force photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is especially true in healthcare. Each year, millions choose to skip routine check-ups, enabling preventable diseases to end hundreds of thousands of lives. Would you delay maintenance on your vehicle until it breaks down? Of course not. Instead you are careful to change the oil and rotate the tires regularly. This preventive routine is true for healthcare as well. Preventive care focuses on maintaining proper health to help alleviate potential disease processes in the future.

While prevention is just one of the key concepts behind the 21st Medical Groups' Patient-Centered Medical Home, it is a critical piece in our healthcare delivery. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases (such as cancer and heart disease), and almost 1 out of every 2 adults has at least one chronic illness, many of which are preventable." Further, shifting the focus to preventive care, early intervention and the management of health problems, has been proven to reduce emergency room visits.

Patient-centered care focuses on overall health rather than just your current condition or disease. Our healthcare team takes a proactive approach by personalizing your care to minimize any future health problems. In order to accomplish this, your team uses screening, education, preventive care and lifestyle coaching to deliver comprehensive care. It is also important for you to develop a strong relationship with your healthcare team. Being informed and engaged in your care empowers you to make better healthcare choices.

What has the 21st MDG done to improve your PCMH experience? Let's go back to your vehicle maintenance scenario. When you take your car in for an oil change, the mechanic may also recommend an air filter change and an engine system check. Prior to each visit with your provider at the 21st Medical Group, your healthcare team will proactively review your medical history, identify any potential health risks and notify you if you are due for immunizations, lab work or recommended preventative screenings. The team also assists in the coordination of follow-up care if needed. By implementing this method, we have surpassed the Air Force average in the management of chronic diseases such as diabetes and breast cancer screening by 20 percent. In addition, appointment access has increased by 25 percent, patient satisfaction soared to 98 percent, provider continuity has greatly improved, and staff satisfaction has increased.

The healthcare industry has entered a vast paradigm shift. Our goal is to provide a full spectrum of care at each visit. Prevention, along with patient engagement in PCMH, has proven to produce better outcomes. These include: better population health, reduced mortality, decreased hospital admissions for patients with chronic diseases, lower utilization, and improved patient compliance. This new paradigm actively engages our healthcare teams (provider, nurse, technician and patient) to focus on patient outcomes, thus driving us to shift from a healthcare system to a "System of Health." As the patient, you are integral to our medical home family. It is a privilege to care for those who serve, have served and their families. We strive every day to optimize your healthcare experience.

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