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Serious Medicine. Extraordinary Care.

Patient-Centered Medical Home Earns National Recognition

Midwest Regional Health Services (MRHS) was one of the first Nebraska medical practices to embrace the concept of the patient-centered medical home. Now it is being recognized as a Level Three Patient Centered Medical Home by The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Midwest Regional Health Services is the first in the state of Nebraska to achieve this distinction. NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality.

NCQA's Level Three Recognition is the highest in the organization's rating scale. To earn a Level Three designation, a practice must score high marks in NCQA's nine elements of quality care. Some of the elements are: access and communication, patient self-management support, electronic prescribing, and advanced electronic communications.

Both MRHS clinics; mid-town located at The Nebraska Medical Center and west Omaha located at Clarkson West Medical Center were recognized by NCQA. MRHS began operating its clinics as patient centered medical homes earlier this year. "We made this transition because it's the best way to care for our patients," said Don Darst, MD, founder of Midwest Regional Health Services at The Nebraska Medical Center. "In the age of health care reform, it makes sense for us to implement these changes and to stop using a model of care that was in many ways outdated."

The concept of a patient-centered medical home is focused around teamwork, quality care, chronic disease management and prevention. Instead of only treating a person when they are sick or injured, the medical home seeks to advise and educate to keep its patients healthy. Communication is also central to the medical home concept. "We are doing more and more online," Dr. Darst said. "It gives our patients better access to their information, and more contact with their medical team."

Most importantly, Dr. Darst said, operating the clinics as medical homes has already shown an improvement in patients' health. "Since starting the medical home, we have seen dramatic improvement in the health of our diabetics," he said. "With that success, we are moving next to focus on patients with cardiovascular diseases."

Dr. Darst said the clinics have also seen improvement in diagnostic screenings such as mammography and colonoscopy. "MRHS has always been a terrific place to go if you were sick," Dr. Darst said. "We'd like it to be a terrific place to go to NOT be sick."