Soon there will be no need for patients at Seton Medical Group to travel to multiple doctor offices to receive medical care.
A one-stop-shop medical center where patients could see primary care physicians and specialists, while also being able to get tests done, is to be built at 40 West Plaza, 6501 Baltimore National Pike.
The new center will cost between $6 and $6.5 million and is expected to be fully operational by March 2015.
At the 38,000-square-foot center, medical care will become more streamlined for patients, said Dr. Bill Cook, a primary care physician at the Seton Medical Group of St. Agnes Hospital facility at 1120 North Rolling Road.
"What we can do for patients in this building is not as comprehensive," said Cook, of his current office on North Rolling Road. "A lot of times, I tell people to get a mammogram or a lab test and they have to go somewhere else. It makes them less likely to actually get it done."
"Our ability to make sure that people are doing [those things] is going to be increased," said the Catonsville resident.
Doctors from four Seton Medical Center groups will become combined as a result of the new facility, said William Greskovich, vice president and director of operations and capital projects at St. Agnes Hospital.
The new center will have 16 primary care physicians as well as 10 to 12 specialists, and services for imaging, laboratory and physical therapy, Greskovich said.
Greskovich said the driving factor behind the model is, "delivering preventative care to the patient in their community so that you're avoiding unnecessary hospital visits, so that you're keeping them out of the hospital by getting them the proper checkups and medications and fitness...It's not so much the efficiency of operations as it is a switch to preventative and managing health versus managing episodic care."
Building the center in Catonsville has proved to be somewhat of a challenge, with some residents expressing concerns about increased traffic, Cook said.
St. Agnes Hospital had plans to build the center in the area for the past five to six years, with one of the proposals on South Rolling Road, where the current Brightview Catonsville Assisted Living facility is being built, Cook said.
"Everywhere we went, everyone thought it was a great idea, but they wanted to put it near someone else's house," Cook said.
Because the shopping center was already zoned for commercial development, the site became more feasible, Cook said.
Some believe the center model to be the future of health care.
"Primary care medicine is changing and we're no longer focused on simply treating acute conditions. Under this new model of coordinated care we're better able to prevent illness, manage chronic conditions and improve health outcomes for the patient," said Kenneth Williams, president of Seton Medical Group at Saint Agnes Hospital, in a July 1 press release. "This is the future of health care, and it's a game changer."
The approach to providing medical care is part of growing trend in health care at the state and federal level.
Maryland created a three-year pilot program in 2011, the Multi-Payor Patient-Centered Medical Home program, which tested the patient-centered medical home model of care at 52 primary and multi-speciality practices, according to the Maryland Heath Care Commission (MHCC) website. '
Such a concept isn't new — it was first introduced by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 1967.
The goal of the program is to increase the quality of health care, while reducing the cost of care, said the MHHC's website.
State law requires that that state's five major insurance carriers: Aetna, CareFirst, CIGNA, Coventry and UnitedHealthcare participate in the program, the website says.
A first-year evaluation of the program issued in a 2013 Maryland Heath Care Commission report, said, "Most respondents said it is too early to determine whether the program is affecting health outcomes. Those who believed that the transformation is positively affecting health outcomes could not provide qualitative evidence but cited anecdotal information."
The report listed outcomes including: a relative decrease in total outpatient payments, a decrease in the average number of specialist office visits and an increase in the number of well-care visits among adolescents.
To become recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), centers must meet a set of nine standards in categories of: access and communication, patient tracking and registry functions, care management, patient self-management and support, electronic prescribing, test tracking, referral tracking, performance reporting and improvement and advanced electronic communication.