BY DR. BRIAN NADOLNE / AJT //

Dr. Brian Nadolne practices family medicine in East Cobb.

Dr. Brian Nadolne practices family medicine in East Cobb.

There’s change in the air when it comes to healthcare in Georgia, and all of us need to learn how to adapt.

In recent years, many patients have noticed increases in their insurance premiums. Others are excited to take part in “healthcare exchanges”; some will have access to health insurance for the first time through the Affordable Care Act.

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But beyond these trending topics, “patient-centered medical home” is another term you will be hearing more about from your physician. If it’s a phrase that has yet to come up, you might want to ask your doctor about this concept. It’s not an entitlement, but rather a team approach to medicine; what it really means is that patients are actively involved in the care that the physician is directing.

For example: You may have hypertension. In a classic healthcare setting, it’s your responsibility to take your medications and follow-up appropriately with your doctor.

Your doctor, meanwhile, should be spending the time in the exam room, going over why hypertension management is important and answering such questions as:

“What are the consequences of missing or just ‘forgetting’ to take your medications?”

“What are the consequences of missing appointments, not getting your labs done on time?”

“What are the consequences of missing a flu shot for you?”

This method may be the standard, but its impersonal nature is a glaring drawback. In my experience, patients don’t like to be thought of as numbers; what they really want is a meaningful relationship with their physician.

That’s why I’ve switched my practice to “concierge” medicine. That means I come to you and am always just a phone call away; it’s a way to guarantee a solid patient-centered medical home.

This, in turn, has offered my patients a more meaningful experience. Patients appreciate the proactive, preventive approach to medicine, rather than the reactive model which patients and doctors alike have been accustomed to for generations.

Our system can no longer afford the multitude of labs and tests and a “just to be sure” approach. It is time for doctors to once again act like doctors.

Open communication with patients – including emailing and texting with little to no wait time for responses – has helped my patients to not only get better care but better access for themselves and their family members. Patients appreciate getting to the bottom of their health problem quickly and welcome the preventive approach at each and every visit.

So, the next time you are in your doctor’s office, discuss the patient-centered medical home approach with your physician. Let the physician know that you are a willing, active participant in your healthcare.

And most importantly, be involved and an active participant in creating your personal patient-centered medical home.

Brian K. Nadolne, MD, FAAFP is a family physician in Marietta, Ga. He is the current president-elect of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians, chair of Family Medicine at Northside Hospital, and medical director of Nadolne Family Medicine & Preventive Care.

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