NCQA has recognized its very first Patient-Centered Connected Care™ urgent care center nationwide and the news couldn’t have come at a better time.
We’ve noted here in the NCQA Blog over the past few days just how popular urgent care centers are becoming for consumers seeking timely, convenient care. Recent news accounts in The Wall Street Journal and on NPR support what we’ve recognized for a while. More and more of you are choosing to seek care at these retail clinics. Now we want to tell you—it gets even better. Our proof is in Wisconsin. Milwaukee to be precise.
Urgent Care for Kids
The Brew City already has something many other places do not. It has a chain of urgent care centers just for kids. The four Children’s Urgent Care clinics operated by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin were specifically opened to provide the hospital’s patients with convenient care during off hours in their own neighborhoods.
“One thing that our hospital has tried to do is to provide care closer to home,” explained Dr. Amy Romashko, the medical director of urgent care at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Three of the four Children’s urgent care centers are housed in buildings that—during office hours—serve as homes for primary care practices affiliated with the hospital. The fourth is located in a community health center in an underserved community.
So, that covers the convenience factor. But wait. There’s more.
Nation’s First Patient-Centered Connected Care Urgent Care
These clinics are special in another way. They are the very first in the nation to earn NCQA Patient-Centered Connected Care Recognition. The program is very similar to NCQA’s Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Recognition and Patient-Centered Specialty Practice (PCSP) Recognition programs. It requires urgent care centers–and other retail, school, or government clinics–to share relevant patient information with patients’ primary care providers and, in some cases, specialists. It also requires the urgent care centers to use electronic health records and to pursue quality improvement.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin really boils it down in its own blog making a commitment to patient-centered principles.
Connection: We will connect and share patient information with your child’s pediatrician, or help you find a primary care provider if your child doesn’t already have one.
Direction: We identify your child’s needs and direct your child to the correct health care providers when appropriate.
Involvement: We provide the highest quality of support to you and your child, making care-based decisions together. This includes offering cultural and language services when needed.
Technology: Our urgent care locations are up to date with technology and computer systems, including our online check-ins that give you estimated wait times.
Improvement: We evaluate our staff’s performance, clinical outcomes, and your overall experience with us, identifying where improvements can be made and taking necessary corrective actions.
Pretty simple, huh? Is your neighborhood urgent care this committed?
There are benefits for the hospital too. It already has committed to the patient-centered approach for its primary care providers and specialty practices. Now, a new set of providers is singing from the same song book.
“NCQA Recognition programs have given us a really good common language to speak among our organizations,” said Michelle Rodriguez, MBA, PCMH CCE, Patient-Centered Medical Home Program Manager. “It’s really given us a consistent set of guidelines that are really specific for each area or specialty, but allowing us to really have that common language.”
“We were really amazed to see we were already doing a majority of the things that this focused on,” added Dr. Amy Romashko. “It was so exciting for us to actually make it official.”
It’s exciting for NCQA as it helps expand the patient-centered approach to care to new—and increasingly popular—places where patients seek care. We’re thrilled Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s urgent care centers are on board.
The next time you drop in to your neighborhood urgent care with a runny nose, a cough or an unsettled stomach, ask yourself–ask them. Is this Patient-Centered Connected Care?
Matt Brock is the Director of Communications at NCQA. After more than two decades working in broadcast journalism, Matt now leads NCQA’s efforts to develop unique content that engages and informs consumers as well as providers, plans and policymakers via this blog, our website, NCQA.org and numerous social media platforms. Matt’s goal is to educate consumers and to direct them to the best resources when considering quality in their health care decisions.