Family Medicine Center

By Doug Boyd

Patient Robert Fulghum, left, and Dr. Robert Newman talk in the ECU Family Medicine Center. The center recently received national recognition as a patient-centered medical home. (Photo by Doug Boyd)

The Family Medicine Center at ECU has gained recognition as a “patient-centered medical home” from a national organization.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance has identified the center as a medical practice where each patient has an ongoing relationship with a doctor who leads a team that takes responsibility for patient care and, when needed, arranges referrals for care with other doctors.

ECU achieved level III recognition, the highest possible.

“NCQA certification is a formal recognition that we have created a patient-centered medical home that allows for easy access for our patients, continuity with the same medical provider, (and) comprehensive care including hospital care and obstetrical care,” said Dr. Robert Newman, vice chair for clinical services for the ECU Department of Family Medicine. “We have also started to measure our clinical performance and patient-satisfaction scores against nationally established benchmarks.”

Patient Robert Fulghum, a retired microbiology faculty member at ECU and a patient of Newman’s, said he has recommended the Family Medicine Center to several people who wanted to establish care at a medical practice.

“They don’t just examine you and say, ‘Here, take these pills,’ and send you off,” said Fulghum, 81. “They allow you to participate in the decisions that are made.”

When referrals to specialists are needed, Family Medicine Center staff members assist with that and follow up. “However, I haven’t really felt the need to go to a specialist,” Fulghum said.

Faculty and staff members began working on the certification in February 2009 and submitted an application in April.

Numerous physician groups contributed to the nine standards for measuring patient-centered medical homes, such as access, communication, care management and referral tracking.

“The patient-centered medical home promises to improve health and health care,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “The active, ongoing relationship between a patient and a physician in medical homes fosters an all-too-rare goal in care: staying healthy and preventing illness in the first place.”

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