KEARNEY — Getting older can mean creaky joints, heart problems and other ailments. To help seniors navigate medical issues, Platte Valley Medical Group has launched Chronic Care Management, a new program offered by Medicare to improve patient health and reduce health care spending.
Two chronic care coordinators from PVMC will contact participants at least once a month to monitor medications, schedule doctors’ appointments, follow up after emergency room visits and answer health-related questions.
The program began May 5 under the leadership of Nita Deyo, nurse manager at PVMC, assisted by Mike Lawson, a PVMG internist. It is coordinated through Vital Health Links, which serves Kansas and western and south-central Nebraska.
“This is a great benefit to our patients,” Deyo said. “So much of health care happens outside the walls of health care facilities. Medicare created this program to reduce costs by coordinating and improving resources and reducing hospitalizations.”
The coordinators help patients manage chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung issues and “anything that patients have for a long period of time,” Deyo said.
“We also assess nutrition and ask whether they’ve followed up with immunizations, mammograms and colonoscopies, and how long it’s been since their last physical,” Deyo added. “It’s coordination between office visits.”
Care coordinators also can assist with issues that may not be obvious during an office visit, such as social and financial resources, to make sure no barriers prevent patients from maintaining good health care.
Medicare patients are being invited to sign up when they come to PVMG for office visits. There is no charge for patients who have Medicare Part B, but standard insurance copays and deductibles apply. Patients without Part B may enroll for $8.
Deyo said care coordinators, who work offsite, are not an added expense. “They are here to help the patients as much or as little as they want. They will be able to point patients in the right direction so they can find information and community resources to solve their specific problems. The goal is to help support our patients better in becoming and staying healthier,” she said.
Deyo added that since the program aims to reduce hospital readmissions, it has the potential to save members money.
“This is exciting for us. If it enhances their quality of life, it will be successful,” she said.