The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) now recognizes the NCNM Clinic at the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) as a Tier 3 Patient-Centered Primary Care Home—the highest level of health care certification granted by the OHA. The state of Oregon established the Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH) model as part of the state’s health system transformation to meet the Triple Aim—deliver better health and better care at lower costs for all Oregonians.
A PCPCH is a health care clinic recognized for its commitment to providing high-quality, patient-centered care by promoting better coordination of care and clinical teamwork, and a better understanding of the patient’s overall health care needs. Primary care homes reduce costs and improve care by focusing on preventive care, wellness and management of chronic conditions.
Last year, NCNM received an Oregon Health Authority grant to participate in a PCPCH learning collaborative. Participants received support in developing patient care teams and the technical expertise necessary to meet all quality standards and metrics required for PCPCH certification. Others in the learning collaborative were OHSU Family Medicine, Doernbecher Pediatric, Wallace Medical Concern, Metropolitan Pediatrics and St. Alphonsus Medical Group.
NCNM Dean of Clinic Operations and Chief Medical Officer Regina Dehen, ND, LAc, noted that the PCPCH recognition of the NCNM Clinic is significant in a number of ways. “Receiving a Tier 3 Star is a noteworthy achievement—particularly for a natural medicine clinic. The vision of NCNM is to be the known leader in natural medicine education, and in becoming a PCPCH we are teaching our students the gold standard of patient-centered care. We are honored to be recognized as leaders in Oregon’s primary care practice transformation.”
In 2013, another NCNM teaching clinic, the Center for Natural Medicine, which supervises NCNM interns and residents in cardiovascular and pulmonary medicine, won the distinction of being the first naturopathic clinic in the U.S. to earn this designation. While a small number of other Oregon naturopathic and integrative care clinics have been designated as PCPCH clinics, the NCNM Clinic is the largest natural medicine clinic to be recognized in Oregon.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) at the NCNM Clinic are trained to focus on each patient’s unique health condition rather than addressing symptoms, Dr. Dehen said. “From a PCPCH care perspective, NDs meet the OHA requirement of patient-centered care, which addresses a patient’s overall care. What’s new at the NCNM Clinic is that we’ve created ‘healthcare teams,’ based on the PCPCH model that assures each patient’s continuity of care.”
Dr. Dehen explained that an NCNM health care team consists of the patient’s naturopathic primary care physician (PCP) and a team of NCNM NDs and licensed acupuncturists—all familiar with that patient’s treatment program and needs. Because each patient requires a different level of care, the team can include integrative care with medical specialists. The care team for a cardiology patient would work with the patient’s allopathic cardiologist, she explained.
“The PCP leads the team, and everyone on the team is responsible for the successful health outcome for the patient. If the PCP is unavailable, every member of the team is able to step in to care for the patient. Together they chart the patient’s progress,” she said.
“NCNM has long been dedicated to providing better health at lower costs for our patients and their families,” Dr. Dehen observed. “This recognition by the Oregon Health Authority gives us additional support as we continue to focus on disease prevention and health maintenance, and provide quality, evidence-based care. It will also expand our ability to coordinate healthcare services for our patients with hospitals, medical specialists and other care organizations.”
For more information, visit www.ncnm-clinic.com.