This is the third installment of the OIMA blog-posts. I wrote the last as we were accepted for the CPC+ program. It has been a busy year. Setting up the program has been difficult but rewarding. We added Debi Merthe in August and she began calling you on the phone to see how things were going. Initially, some of you were really suspicious, and some even thought it was a scam, but eventually even the skeptics were ok with the calls and questions.
As I mentioned in the previous post, Medicare is paying us some money up front to hire staff and purchase equipment and materials to help manage your care between visits. We bought some blood pressure cuffs, both wrist and upper arm types, some books for insulin-requiring diabetics, a continuous glucose sensor system and an automated blood pressure machine that measures aortic pressure. We are planning to rent a little more space, so we can start some support groups. Elena and Joan will be working on setting up the groups. We also are planning some community discussions. In addition, we will be having quarterly Patient and Family Advisory Council meetings to get your feedback and suggestions for improvement. So far, we have about 12 members and could use a few more, so if you are interested, shoot me a portal message.
One of the key elements of the program is quality of care. We must report yearly on a variety of quality measures including the percentages of our patients with: blood pressures lower than 140/85; diabetics who have had eye exams, and who have Hemoglobin A1c values below 9; women 50-75 who have had mammograms in the past 27 months; everyone 50-75 who has had some form of colon cancer screening; yearly influenza and up to date pneumonia immunizations. We are also being tracked for prescribing drugs Medicare calls “bad”, including sleeping pills, tranquilizers, even stomach pills like Prilosec. We must do a memory scoring test on every one with poor memory or dementia once a year; we should not do a back xray for simple low back pain, and we should be screening everyone for falls and depression. More quality measures will come. On top of all of this, Medicare is tracking how many of you were seen in the emergency room and how many were admitted to the hospital. Clearly, Medicare’s hope with all of this is that better care will translate into fewer expensive ER and hospital visits. So far, we are doing alright.
Remember, this is a joint venture. We are hoping to help you take better care of yourself!! That is the real goal.