CNMI clinic recognized as world class

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A KNOWN community health center at the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Island on Wednesday was given the National Committee for Quality Assurance seal of recognition as testament to its world class quality of medical service.

The NCQA’s recognition of the Kagman Community Health Center was the result of the center’s focus on highly coordinated and long-term participative relationships with patients, according to the clinic’s executive director Vince T. Castro.

“We finally get our PCMH accreditation and recognition,” Castro said in a phone interview. He added that they have submitted their application for accreditation in July this year.

“Even before that, we have been operating as patient-centered medical home. What it means is whoever comes here gets high quality care and we have a certain standard that we meet. We made extra effort to learn about our patient and not just the doctor or provider,” Castro said.

He noted that even their front desk staff, medical assistants and nurses, their case manager are part of the team in overseeing their patient care by knowing their cases and their medical condition adding that they always monitor their clinical performance.

“For example, for diabetes patients, we review their cases – how are we doing in getting their sugar controlled. Basically, we are always trying to improve our patient’s health,” Castro said.

Moreover, Castro disclosed that the KCHC use electronic health record so the recorded information is accessible to the providers.

“In medical referrals, we are the one calling the referral office and following up on behalf of the patients who need it. We actively seek out for the patient to remind them of their doctor appointment,” he said.

Aside from health care, KCHC also helped arrange transportation for its patients. It coordinate with the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority to give patients a ride to the clinic and back to their homes.

“We did apply for accreditation because we want to make sure that we meet certain standards for the NCQA. We want to test our system and find out exactly where we are,” Castro said.
NCQA is non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. It accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance.

Castro said NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home is a model of primary care that combines teamwork and information technology to improve care, improve patients’ experience of care and reduce costs.

NCQA president Margaret E. O’Kane defined medical homes as fostering partnerships between patients and their personal clinicians, instead of approaching care as the sum of episodic office visits.

“Each patient’s care is overseen by clinician-led care teams that coordinate treatment across the health care system. Research shows that medical homes can lead to higher quality and lower costs, and can improve patient and provider reported experiences of care.”

“Recognition shows that KCHC has the tools, systems and resources to provide its patients with the right care, at the right time,” O’Kane stated.

The recognition is valid for three years.

“KCHC demonstrated the ability to meet the program’s key elements, embodying characteristics of the medical home.

NCQA standards aligned with the joint principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home established with the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Osteopathic Association.

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