St. Elizabeth Healthcare has served the Greater Cincinnati region since 1861. Consisting of multi-specialty sites throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Northern Kentucky, St. E's has supported, provided care for, and loved its community since the Covington Sisters of the Poor founded it 150 years ago. Now, over 300 doctors make up the St. Elizabeth network. One such physician, Dr. Brian Schack, is a family practitioner/pediatrician in Pendleton, Kentucky.
Dr. Schack sees thousands of patients a year, over a hundred a week, with all kinds of needs - all at a rural office with scandalously few resources, in desperate need itself. The Pendleton branch of St. Elizabeth lacks finances, supplies, sufficient staff, and - most importantly - a voice responsive to its needs. Dr. Schack does everything he can to take care of his office, to care for his patients, but with limited outside assistance.
In an attempt to compensate for such limited assistance, Dr. Schack is following a novel but nation-wide trend in primary care. The "Team Model" was created to help primary care offices everywhere, yet particularly those lacking manpower, funding, and other resources.
The model utilizes a rotating set of medical assistants cross-trained to help in more areas than typically practiced. The medical assistants (MA) would see patients before the physician, discuss reasons for the visit, update charts, and advise patients on more standard medical concerns. The MA then remains in the room upon the physician's entrance to act as a scribe and provide a sense of care continuity for the patient. When the physician has finished his/her exam, the MA remains in the room to ensure full patient understanding and comfort. This is followed up with phone calls post-visit to check in between stops at the office.
All of this is done with whole patient wellbeing in mind. The emphasis is on human-to-human care, addressing patient needs inside and out. It's difficult with minimal resources to provide adequate healthcare, but St. E's believes it takes more than money to truly care for a patient. Dr. Schack's Pendleton office is out to do just that.
- The goals of this new system - cutting costs, cutting wait time, maximizing patient face-time and alleviating burdens on the physician - can only happen with some outside help. The intern provides this by means of the following duties:
- Researching offices throughout the country who have implemented similar models to note both successes and struggles.
- Participating as a medical assistant to keep office flow running smoothly on busy days.
- Discussing chronic disease care with patients, in person and over the phone.
- Creating informational handouts for disease management.
- Studying the Epic system and updating patient records between visits.