News outlets report on two novel approaches to health care: the medical home and patient-doctor intereactions via video.
WBUR (Boston) reports that the term "medical home" has "become a health reform buzzword" and is "touted as a way to cut costs and improve primary care. Massachusetts recently launched several programs to create medical homes."
"The team approach is key to the medical home concept, according to Eric Weil, a primary-care physician at Mass General who helps run" a medical-home pilot project. "Weil says other people on a medical home team can help with issues such as nutrition counseling, scheduling visiting nurses, filling out administrative forms and answering insurance questions … But the team approach means patients don't always have immediate access to their doctor." For the concept to work, "there has to be a major change in how health care is paid for. Medical homes need to find a way to bill for what all those team members do, and few insurance companies are set up for that. But medical home supporters say if the approach keeps people healthier, that could save enough money to make the change worthwhile" (Pfeiffer, 1/29).
Previous related KHN story: Living In A 'Medical Home' (Brink, 9/11/2009)
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on Medicine at Work, "a service offered by Houston-based NuPhysicia" that uses two-way video at a workplace "that lets patients consult in real-time with a Georgia-licensed physician, who can be hundreds of miles away. Using special equipment called the T-Cart -- or telemedicine cart -- a doctor and an on-site paramedic can listen to the patient's heartbeat and take other vital signs or use a special scope that allows the physician to examine the patient's ears, throat, nose and eyes. The doctor can send a prescription to the clinic; the paramedic prints it out and hands it to the patient" (Poole, 1/28).