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Today’s Healthcare Team and the Growing Medical Assistant Role

By Jen Coury

As we’ve highlighted in prior posts , the Alternative Payment Methodology (APM) has freed up health systems to dive into alternative ways of providing care. Many of these health systems were already experimenting with new approaches, and APM was designed to bring payment more in line with this kind of care innovation. For many health systems, part of this shift in practice management involves more team-based care including increased responsibilities for Medical Assistants (MAs).  In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the employment of Medical Assistants will grow 29% from 2012 to 2022.

MAs are finding themselves with more to do, specifically related to panel management and health maintenance activities for patients. An MA has always had a broad role in medical practices. They perform a wide variety of tasks such as: reception, medical chart filing, escorting patients to rooms, getting medical history and vital signs, basic lab tests, patient instructions, and telephone calls to patients. Under the new model in many practices, the MAs are now “scrubbing” or reviewing a patient’s medical chart when they come in for an appointment to make sure the clinical staff cover preventive health needs. Continue reading Today’s Healthcare Team and the Growing Medical Assistant Role

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Addressing Behavioral Health Integration With Payment Reform

By Deborah Cohen, PhD

(Note: This article originally appeared in Health Affairs Blog on April 20, 2015. An edited version is being reposted here as part of the research effort investigating the impact of Alternative Payment Methodology (APM) on the delivery of primary care in safety-net populations. Through this website, Frontiers of Health Care, we are sharing lessons learned and perspectives from key stakeholders on the frontlines of reform.)

Primary care practices in Oregon and elsewhere have been moving toward the Patient Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH) model. As they emphasize whole-person primary care that is accessible, high in quality, and safe, Oregon’s Alternative Payment Methodology (APM) pilot is an important step to align payment with these core principles. The APM pilot has been described as a bridge to value-based care. It isn’t the solution to the fee-for-service treadmill, but some think it’s a step in the right direction.

The APM pilot is testing the idea that a per-member-per-month (PMPM) fee to care for a population can support comprehensive care. Integration of physical and behavioral health care is a great case for examining alternative payment methodologies, and it gives us a peek into what Oregon’s APM is (and isn’t) achieving.

Integration of behavioral health and primary care by health care systems is one of the most robust examples of patient-centered, comprehensive care that I have observed in this model. We know that emotional and behavioral issues commonly compound physical health risks and lead to worsening health outcomes. We also know that primary care is where most people struggling with these commonly co-occurring conditions are seen by health care professionals. Continue reading Addressing Behavioral Health Integration With Payment Reform