Non-Clinical Care Guides Offer Positive Approach to Patient Care
by Diane Atwood
Richard Adair, MD, has been an internist for about 40 years. He is currently employed by Allina Health, a large not-for-profit network of hospitals and clinics in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
As is the case for health care providers across the country, Adair gets to spend, on average, about 20 minutes with each of his patients. He works in a primary care clinic at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, an Allina hospital in Minneapolis. A fair number of his patients have chronic diseases and given the time constraints, he often worried that some of them didn’t get the level of attention they needed. The challenge was, he says, “How can we go about giving better quality for our patients without adding more time or more reimbursement, because these things are just not going to happen?”
Improving the quality of chronic disease care is an important goal for the entire United States health care system. Several innovative care management models already exist, but Adair wanted to try something different. Instead of adding more clinical people, such as nurses, to the primary care delivery team, he wanted to hire laypeople. “Nurses are pretty expensive,” he says. “They have very specific skills and training and we couldn’t do without them, but I was looking for somebody who had a little different skill set than the nurses.”
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