Patients facing serious, complex, or chronic diseases truly benefit from a team of professionals – as well as family and friends – working and rooting for their best possible health outcome. There are several varieties of team approaches, including one called the “medical home” healthcare model. The goal of all team approaches is to integrate medical care so all the various players know what is going on.
Recently, Elizabeth Lin, M.D. and her colleagues from Group Health in Seattle, examined the benefits of the medical home approach for patients with complex diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
Her study involved 214 patients with multiple health conditions to see if a team approach could achieve better health outcomes. In this study, a nurse care manager worked closely with the patients’ physician, the patients themselves, and other key players during disease treatment. The nurse utilized patient-centered goals to establish treatment targets for each individual patient.
The coordinated care in this study greatly improved the start rates for therapy initiation and medication adjustment rates. This team care approach increased patient self-monitoring, such as how often patients monitored their blood pressure at home and checked their own blood glucose. Medication adherence didn’t see an uptick, but Dr. Lin notes that adherence was already quite high in this study group – so there had been very little room for improvement here.
This medical home approach can be particularly useful for chronic health conditions. When it comes to treating serious diseases, such as hepatitis C or hemophilia, it’s important for the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. The team-based model of the medical home approach focuses on communication and relies on emerging technology as a way to reach better outcomes.
Although we don’t specifically use the medical home approach, our team-based model at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy is compatible with medical homes. As we partner with medical homes in the future, our core technologies will easily align with their healthcare model. For example, our TAP App (Therapy Access Portal application) allows physicians to view the pharmacy chart directly on their smart phones or laptops, so that communication between the physician and our pharmacy is instant and seamless.
In addition to accessing the pharmacy chart, TAP App incorporates other features, such as e-prescribing, real-time access to patient compliance, refills, drug profile reviews, and interventions by BioPlus staff. Later this year a new version of TAP App will be ready for patients to use on their smartphones; allowing all the key players – patient, physician, and pharmacy – to be more closely integrated than ever before. You could say that BioPlus is prepared for the future of team approaches to patient treatment – in fact, we’re already there.
Stephen C Vogt, PharmD
President and CEO