When Benjamin Franklin wrote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” there was no way for him to know just how applicable his words would be, nearly three hundred years later, to our health care system. As the average cost of health care continues to rise, there is a concerted effort amongst health care professionals to empower and educate their patients to take on a more pro-active role in their own care management. For Tricia Williams, Care Coordinator at Essen Healthcare’s Health Home, it’s about making sure her patients know she’s out there fighting for them:
“It’s important to me to be a care coordinator because there are times when people need advocates. Our patients are like family. I want them to know that they matter and that they have a voice,” said Williams. Recognizing early on the importance of both team-oriented and patient-empowerment, Essen added Health Home Program to the umbrella of patient services in 2014 when the program was introduced by New York State.
“Health home allows us to bring care together by addressing issues that affect health and cannot be addressed in medical office” says Dr. Sahgal. “It brings care together.” As soon as patients are enrolled in Essen’s Health Home, they are assigned a dedicated care coordinator assesses their needs and develop a personalized health care plan. Care coordinators are responsible for managing and coordinating care plan to enable the patient to play a much more active role in their wellness. By combining telephonic outreach and home visits, care coordinators are better able to understand the variety of factors that are impacting their patient’s health.
Clinical coordinators are often able to prevent the progression of medical conditions simply by helping patients secure services or resources to address issues with: medication/appointment management; housing; transportation; mental health/substance abuse treatment; needed medical equipment, such as canes and walkers; and so much more.
Best of all, patients enrolled through Essen’s Health Home also have access to Essen Health Care’s entire network of medical providers, improving access and quality of care. Some of the medical services that Health Home patients have direct access to include: cardiology (heart wellness); dermatology (skin care); mental and behavioral therapy; podiatry (foot care); and pain management.
For Williams, the emphasis is less on what she can do for her patients and more on what she can help her patients do for themselves: “People do not always know how or where to get certain things they need, such as referrals or medical equipment.
The Health Home is especially important at this time because it helps keep people engaged in the community and out of the hospital or emergency room. We connect them to their communities and their caregivers…and we’re able to show them that they aren’t alone.”
Left to right: Tricia Williams,Donna Parsons, Dr. Sumir Sahgal