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Same day appointments with Medical Home Port

Medical Home Port Teams, like the ones in Naval Hospital Pensacola’s Family Medicine Clinic, are here to assist in patient health care. Each team consists of doctors, nurses, corpsmen, booking clerks, pharmacists, case managers and several other health care specialists dedicated to assisting patients with their medical needs.

Medical Home Port Teams, like the ones in Naval Hospital Pensacola’s Family Medicine Clinic, are here to assist in patient health care. Each team consists of doctors, nurses, corpsmen, booking clerks, pharmacists, case managers and several other health care specialists dedicated to assisting patients with their medical needs.

PENSACOLA, Fla. – A common misconception when it comes to health care is the wait associated with making appointments. That is not the case with the Medical Home Port program at Naval Hospital Pensacola where same day appointments and patients seeing their assigned provider are top priorities.

Medical Home Port is a team based approach to primary health care where patients are assigned to a specific Medical Home Port Team. The team reviews all of the patient’s medical needs and ensures that anything required for the patient is addressed during the appointment, including booking referrals and giving missing immunizations.

“Medical Home Port is an integrated approach to delivering health care to the patient,” said Ken Laube, Medical Home Port business manager with NHP. “It provides a wider scope of services in clinics for the patient.”

Along with doctors, nurses and corpsmen, the team approach involves other specialists within each clinic, such as a pharmacist who can dispense some medications, a case manager, diabetic specialist and a behavioral health specialist (motivational coach) to help with chronic habits such as insomnia, smoking or weight loss.

To qualify as a Medical Home Port, the hospital has to be certified by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

NHP is a leader in the DoD with 10 recognized Medical Home Port Teams: Family Practice, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at NHP and Naval Branch Health Clinics Gulfport, Miss.; Meridian, Miss.; Millington, Tenn.; Belle Chasse, La.; Whiting Field, Fla.; Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.; and Naval Air Technical Training Center, Pensacola, Fla. Among the requirements for certification are the ability for patients to contact their team 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the team’s availability to handle same day appointments.

Many people think it is easier to be seen by going to the emergency room, but this is not always the case.

“What we [Internal Medicine] are seeing is that 40 to 50 percent of common conditions that we can manage are showing up in the emergency room at times we are open,” said Cmdr. Carolyn Rice, department head, Internal Medicine, NHP. “Conditions like ear ache, cold, flu and back ache … these are common issues that you would normally see your doctor for.”

If patients have an emergency, then the ER is the appropriate place to go. However, if patients want to be seen the same day, and it’s not an emergency, the Medical Home Port is the ideal location. Not only can patients eliminate the waiting in the ER, which can be hours, they will have the advantage of seeing their own medical team.

“Getting to see your regular doctor has numerous advantages; they already have familiarity with your medical history, your conditions and your personal concerns when approaching your health care,” said Rice.

Having that continuity between patients and primary care managers is an important component of Medical Home Port.

“What’s very unique about [Medical Home Port] are the efforts to maintain continuity between patients and their own doctors,” said Laube. “The more [patients] see their doctor verses another doctor … their [frequency of] visits go down, satisfaction goes up for both the patient and the doctor, and the quality of the visit is better because you are going to someone that knows your history.”

During the month of January, NHP’s three primary care medical homes: Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Family Medicine all scored within the top 25 of patient and primary care manager continuity across the entire DoD, with Internal Medicine coming in first with 90.1 percent.

“What that means is that 90 percent of the time when you come for an appointment, you will be seeing your regular doctor,” said Rice. “Even when you are unable to see your doctor, you will still be seeing a member of your team.”

Actual Medical Home Port visits are not the only way patients can receive health care or information pertaining to their health. Patients also have access to online tools through TRICARE online such as making appointments, accessing personal health data, requesting prescription refills or communicating with their provider and Medical Home Port Team through secure messaging. Patients can ask their team questions regarding their health while still maintaining patient confidentiality and possibly saving a trip to the hospital.

With the overall goal of patient satisfaction, Medical Home Port aims to improve the patient’s health care experience while also increasing access to care. This approach makes health care easier and more convenient than ever for patients.

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