Focus on the whole patient means special attention to preventive care.
This single practitioner clinic serves all of Greenwood County Kansas and beyond. Jennifer Larsen is the physician’s assistant. “We’ve tried to focus on whole patient care, especially preventive care,” she said.
Larsen explained they started by implementing an electronic health record that allows them to run reports and identify gaps in preventative services. “Then we can follow up with the patient,” Larsen said.
For example, they reviewed records for those showing no breast cancer screenings for two years. “So we contacted patients by letter, phone call or when they were in the office for other reasons,” she said. This led to improved screening rates. Now 50 percent of their female patients are getting mammograms, compared to rates as low as 20 percent in the past.
The same has been true for colon cancer screening and childhood immunizations. “We also looked for delinquent referral reports, so we could follow up with the patient after they had been referred,” Larsen said.
“The patients’ responses have been positive. I think they appreciate that the focus is on them and keeping them healthy rather than only addressing the needs they have when they arrive at the clinic.” She added, “We are lucky that we have a physician, Dr. Petie Schwerdtseger, who is supportive of preventive care. The staff is very willing to pick up the extra tasks to make this happen, too.”
Larsen has also found resources in the community for her patients. She compiled a list of services, many of them free, to assist with their care. She reached out to the K-State extension service for free services available to diabetic patients. Other resources on the list include mental health services, domestic violence shelters and various forms of counseling offered through churches, such as grief or addiction counseling. “A lot of times patients need mental health services such as counseling or group therapy, but many don’t have insurance and can’t afford therapy.”
There are options for exercise on the list, both the local gym and classes offered at no charge by churches or the local gym. “I’ve also included phone numbers for assistance with housing and food,” Larson said. “It came about because I would often recommend these things and then have to Google it, so I compiled a list for our patients.”
“I just think Jennifer is exemplary,” said Josh Mosier, KHC PTN quality improvement advisor, who has been working with Larsen for about a year. “We did the practice assessment survey and when we talked again, she had made much more progress than was expected.” Eureka Clinic is in a small, rural community, has one physician, and is very busy,” Mosier said. “They have been using the registries and reports to identify gaps and address preventive care. Jennifer has been on top of it from the very beginning. She is really making an impact on all things Eureka and all things Greenwood County.”