Doctors Make House Calls so Patients Don’t Have to Travel
ThedaCare is teaming up with several skilled nursing facilities to provide on-site medical care for residents.
ThedaCare Physicians-Long-Term Care was launched recently by John Barkmeier, MD, a long-time family physician and geriatrician in the Fox Cities who decided to turn his focus to skilled nursing facilities. He and other providers give onsite care to nursing home patients so they don’t need to travel to receive medical care.
“This service is a huge benefit for our residents since many primary care physicians don’t see patients at nursing homes anymore,” said Karlyn Saffron, director of nursing at Rennes Health & Rehab in Appleton. “Many patients don’t – or can’t – go out to see their doctor. Dr. Barkmeier sees the patient right here.”
Dr. Barkmeier said many nursing home patients are recovering from surgery or serious injury so visiting them on-site makes their lives easier. “Physicians used to do this more routinely, but nowadays many feel uncomfortable or unequipped to deliver care in a skilled nursing setting,” Dr. Barkmeier said. “That’s where we come in. We provide a higher level of support for the patient, family and other physicians on the care team.”
Saffron said Dr. Barkmeier answers questions nursing staff may have about a patient and can also provide education and support as needed. “It’s a wonderful collaborative environment that’s been created between ThedaCare and the skilled nursing facilities,” she said.
By being onsite, the ThedaCare Physicians-Long-Term Care providers are better able to monitor each patient’s use of medications at the facility, and can implement the most effective care plan.
Connecting nursing home care to Epic, ThedaCare’s electronic medical record (EMR) system, is a big plus, Dr. Barkmeier said. Each time he sees a patient, medication or health changes are documented in the EMR. That way, if a nursing home patient requires hospitalization, the hospital care team can access notes from the patient’s time in the skilled nursing home.
Saffron said the connection of the nursing home records to the patients’ electronic medical records is a huge plus. “We’ve really improved the quality of care across the continuum,” she said.
This work will become even more significant next year, when regulations specify that hospitals will be responsible for re-admission rates. By keeping patients healthier in skilled nursing facilities, Dr. Barkmeier and his colleagues help reduce hospital re-admission rates among that population.
Dr. Barkmeier hopes to eventually expand services into assisted living. “We want to elevate the care in our communities and provide consistency for physicians, patients and families,” he said.
ThedaCare™ Physicians includes more than 144 employed physicians and 70 nurse practitioners and physician assistants at 23 locations throughout the region and includes specialists in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, sports medicine, rehabilitation, orthopedics and general surgery. Also, two FastCare clinics are located in the Fox Cities and one FastCare clinic is located in Oshkosh. According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, ThedaCare Physicians is also the nation’s leader in implementing Open Access, same-day appointment services for its patients. ThedaCare Physicians is also the leader in implementing an electronic medical records system, including a patient portal called MyThedaCare, that allows patients to access to their medical information, request appointments, refill prescriptions, and consult their physician from their home computer.
ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work, and ThedaCare At Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information, media may contact Megan Wilcox, APR, (firstname.lastname@example.org), public relations and corporate specialist for ThedaCare, at (920) 830-5847, or call the Theda Clark Medical Center switchboard at (920) 729-3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.