September 2, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Detroit Medical Center to get $10 million award to increase access to services

Detroit — The Detroit Medical Center will receive a $10 million award from the federal government to increase access to primary health care services in Detroit, according to the federal government.

The money will come from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’Health Care Innovation Awards Program for an idea submitted by Dr. Suzanne White, the center’s chief medical officer. It’s among 39 awards totaling $360 million granted from about 3,000 hospital applications from across the nation.

About 71 percent of Detroit residents, more than 500,000 people, are considered medically underserved because they don’t regularly see a primary care physician, according to the White. Many ignore health conditions until they’re so sick they need to visit the hospital emergency room.

According to White, Detroit has a significant shortage of primary care physicians. Those lucky enough to have a primary doctor often have trouble keeping appointments.

“There seem to be a lot of barriers to being able to attain high quality primary care,” White said. “The greatest barrier is transportation. Other barriers include an inability to have access to after hours care, the perception of lack of safety in certain areas, or that they might not be welcomed.”

A team that includes primary care doctors, nurse educators, case managers and coacheswill be on hand in DMC emergency departments to work with patients on ways to improve their health through prevention and self-management of their conditions. The care team will use face-to-face visits, telephone calls and texting to stay connected after patients leave the emergency department, White said.

The federal Affordable Care Act was designed to reduce health care costs by funneling health care services to each patient through a “medical home,” usually a primary care physician who provides preventive health care services and helps patients manage chronic health conditions so they don’t end up in the hospital.

The federal awards range from $2 million to $23.8 million over three years.

“The Health Care Innovation Awards support our ongoing work to drive down health care costs while providing high quality care to CMS beneficiaries,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in Tuesday’s press release announcing the award. “These awards advance innovative solutions in delivering and improving care from all across our nation.”

The DMC’s new care team care model was started Monday.

“It’s been our observation for some time that patients are reaching out to us through our emergency departments,” White said. “It’s the natural progression to now be able to offer a home for them. We really want to develop a new model.”

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