|A Team Approach
to Health Care
by Brandi Schlossberg
team is at the heart of a new approach to health care, which is
being assessed in a pilot study called "Using A Clinically
Driven Community Health Assessment Team (C.H.A.T.) to Reduce Health-Care
Costs in Greene County.
Funded by Wright State
University in Dayton, Ohio, the study aims to see whether a team
approach can reduce health-care costs and boost patient satisfaction.
The team will focus on the problems of the people who use health
care the most in Greene County.
"About ten percent
of the people you care for use about 70 percent of your health-care
dollars," said William Tindall, Ph.D., director of the Alliance
for Research in Community Health at Wright State University School
of Medicine. Tindall helped assemble the health-care team and is
in charge of evaluating its effectiveness.
"We're going to ask
the employer groups to give us a list of who their top [health-care]
users are and work our way down," said Tindall. "A lot
of these people are getting interventions and not preventions."
Instead of treating a
top health-care user simply for the problem they present with at
the time, the Community Health Assessment Team will take a look
at that person's health from a variety of angles, to determine,
and hopefully ease, their need for frequent health-care.
"It's not just about
saving money but also about improving people's health, " said
Mark McDonnell, health commissioner for Greene County and a supervisor
of the Community Health Assessment Team. "Instead of having
health care dictated to a patient, you specifically tailor health
care to the person involved. You look at their medical situation,
their family situated, where they are in community."
For example, a family
physician may see a patient with arthritis and prescribe pain pills
to solve the problem. If the Community Health Assessment Team were
involved, the massage therapist might suggest weekly massage to
alleviate the symptoms without costly pills, or potential side effects.
The team's psychologist might evaluate the effect arthritis has
had on that person's quality of life and suggest some remedies as
well, including tips from the aromatherapist.
"It is important
to our team to include integrated medicine because so much of a
person's journey to find good health is a function of wanting to
be in control of their health, and to do this using their own health-belief
system," said Tindall. "People's personal health beliefs
are not well understood, nor are they explored in the brief encounters
that are the hallmark of a trip to a traditional clinician."
If the results of the
pilot study, which is expected to last six months, show that health-care
costs are reduced and patient health is increased, Tindall said
the Community Health Assessment Team would attempt to sell itself
as a permanent facet of Greene County's health system.
"This would help
lower the cost of health care for everyone in the county,"