WXXI AM News

Medical Program Encourages Patients with Chronic Illnesses to Treat/Monitor Their Health from Home

Mar 21, 2012

One of Rochester's first medical home projects claims participating patients have dramatically improved their health in the first two years of the program.

The Rochester Medical Home Initiative's goal is to reduce emergency room visits and readmission rates by helping patients monitor and treat their chronic illnesses from home.

The initiative is a collaboration between 33,000 patients and 21 physicians at multiple primary doctor's offices in the area. And according to doctors, patients on average are performing better on certain health measures than 90% of the national population with similar health issues like diabetes and heart disease. However, the future of the program may be in jeopardy.

Dr. Wallace Johnson is the Director at the Center for Primary Care at the University of Rochester. He says the future of the initiative is unclear because it's not driven by a bottom line, rather by patient results.

"This initiative will fail if primary care medicine devolves back into 'you have to come into the office to be seen' care model. I think there is a lot of good medicine that can be practiced through the use of an electronic medical record communicating directly with a patients' email and with nurses communicating directly with patients," says Dr. Johnson.

According to Dr. Johnson, Primary Care physicians make money based on how often they see patients. And since the Medical Home Initiative provides treatment outside the office, Dr. Johnson says the initiative will only be able to progress beyond next year's end date if insurance companies step up the plate and help fund the program.