REGION — Now that all Californians are required to have health insurance, North County Health Services (NCHS) has seen a marked increase in newly covered patients at its five community health centers. To help ensure patients receive optimal health care, team-based care is being implemented.
Team-based care delegates more health care duties to registered nurses, medical assistants and health educators on the team.
This frees up doctors to see a greater number of patients for services, which require their expertise.
“People on the team work to the top end of their licensure giving the maximum amount of services they can provide,” Alta Farley, NCHS grant writer, said.
The approach has required medical assistants to receive additional training and more health educators to be hired.
Patients are paired with a team that works with their primary care physician. This allows trust to blossom.
Briana Cardoza, NCHS senior director of program planning and grants, said the team-based approach is expected to reap positive results.
“We are excited to adopt these models of care because it’s been shown that team-based care positively predicts satisfaction and engagement among patients,” Cardoza said.
A big benefit is that patients become more responsible for their healthcare, including adopting a healthier lifestyle.
“Many patients have needs and barriers beyond seeing a physician,” Farley said. “We can integrate a lot of health education and nutrition.”
Those with chronic diseases will benefit from one-on-one recommendations to help manage their health.
“A physician is limited with their time and doesn’t necessarily address lifestyle changes,” Farley said.
Additional expected patient benefits are better health, reduced emergency room visits and lower health care costs.
“We’ll have a healthier, happier community,” Farley said.
“Patients will feel more supported in their care, feel an active participant in making decisions about their own care, feel empowered and be connected with other community resources.”
To help get team-based care off to a good start, Blue Shield of California Foundation awarded North County Health Services $75,000 to hone best practice.
The funds will be used to fine-tune team-based care during the first year.
A NCHS project team will visit successful team-based care facilities, receive best practices training and troubleshoot implementation.
“We pretty much have a skeleton of it in place,” Farley said. “Now we need to streamline it, make it work efficiently and cost-effectively.”
NCHS serves more than 60,000 patients at its community health centers in Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, San Marcos and Ramona.
Correction: An incorrect photo ran with the original posting. The photo now posted is correct.