We take great pride in caring for each patient as a unique individual—it’s part of being an exceptional health care home. This includes being sensitive to the particular needs of patients with disabilities. But many patients’ disabilities aren’t outwardly visible.
Val Overton, vice president of quality and innovation for Fairview Clinics, (left) and Deb Hollerich, clinic administrator for our Blaine, Hugo and Lino Lakes clinics, (center) accepted the UCare award on behalf of Fairview Clinics from Nancy Feldman, UCare president and CEO (right).
That was the case for Scott, a patient with diabetes whose traumatic brain injury manifested in extreme paranoia, making him uncomfortable coming to the clinic or even answering his phone.
Tom Franta, an RN care coordinator for Fairview Clinics, took this challenge to heart.
After Scott’s physician introduced them, Scott and Tom spoke face-to-face and developed a system where Tom would call Scott, let the phone ring twice, hang up and then call back. This signaled to Scott that that the caller was Tom.
The coded phone call process enabled us to manage Scott’s insulin dosing over the phone and reduce his chronically elevated A1c from 14 to 8. His neuropathy has improved and retinopathy stabilized.
Along the way, we were able to gain Scott’s trust and engage him in his care.
Honored by UCare
Fairview Clinics’ attention to individualized care was honored recently by UCare, a local, nonprofit health plan, which recognized our efforts to serve patients with disabilities.
“As we explained our approach to UCare, we had an ‘aha’ moment about the many ways that our care model, our culture and our people powerfully intersect to deliver great care for patients,” says Val Overton, vice president of quality and innovation for Fairview Medical Group, which operates Fairview’s network of 40+ primary care clinics.
“We seek to serve all patients in the best way possible for their unique needs and circumstances. This is how we live out our Fairview values of dignity, integrity, service and compassion each day,” says Val.
So what are we doing to support the diverse patients we serve?
Many pieces working together
As a health care home, our processes are designed to facilitate patients, families, primary care providers and staff working as a team to improve health outcomes and quality of life for individuals with chronic or complex health conditions.
Here are some examples of how this work improves the care of patients with disabilities:
- Voice of the patient in operations: Our primary care clinics have patient partners with a wide range of perspectives and experiences, including patients with disabilities. These patient partners provide input on our operations that we use to make improvements. For example, if preferred by patients with disabilities, we complete the check-in process in the exam room, rather than in the reception area.
- Customized care plans: Care plans reflect patient-centered goals that address specific challenges experienced by patients with disabilities.
- Staff insights: Several of our team members care for family members with disabilities. They share their experiences and perspectives with their colleagues to help everyone increase their ability to anticipate the needs of our patients with disabilities.
- Safe and accessible facilities: Our maintenance teams continually address snow and ice in the parking lots and sidewalks during the winter and the overall safety of our exterior areas/entrances year-round. In addition, we link patients with resources like Metro Mobility to improve the accessibility of office visits.
- Electronic communication: We encourage use of phone and virtual communication for patients with disabilities whenever such technology can prevent unnecessary travel. We emphasize use of Zipnosis, a tool designed to provide diagnoses of select conditions and offer treatment options through a secure website. We also offer secure electronic and phone visit options to reduce the need for clinic visits.
- Coordination of care with home care services: Those with disabilities benefit from further flexibility and efficiency in care delivered through use of home care, mobile care teams and other Fairview care coordination services.
- Onsite pharmacy and prescription delivery: On site, Fairview retail pharmacies will deliver prescriptions to exam rooms to minimize unnecessary transitions. Fairview Pharmacy Services also will deliver prescriptions to homes within a geographic service area.
Building design features enhanced accessibility
We strive to make our clinics accessible and comfortable for our patients with disabilities. Some examples include:
- Automatic doors throughout our sites support accessibility.
- Braille signage enhances wayfinding for those with sight impairment.
- Open space in waiting areas improve ease of movement of wheelchairs.
- Wide chairs in waiting areas offer comfortable seating for all body types.
- Wide hallways allow wheelchairs and foot traffic to pass easily.
- Exam tables lower to below seat level to allow easy access for those using wheelchairs.
- Wide and low blood drawing stations in labs allow easy access for those using wheelchairs.
“Our goal is to provide personalized, high-quality care for each patient,” says Val. “We seek to deliver on that goal not only through our facilities, systems and processes, but also through our culture and our expectations.
“Our care teams’ attention to detail and focus on the whole person is outstanding.”