Kansas City,
08:16 AM

Children's Mercy Employee Wellness Center Earns Highest Level of Recognition

Every day we deliver high-quality health care to the kids we serve. It’s good to know we receive quality care, too, through Children's Mercy Employee Wellness Center.

That was demonstrated last month when the Cerner-operated clinic for Children's Mercy employees received word it had achieved Level 3 recognition – the highest possible – in the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Recognition Program from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

NCQA is a national non-profit organization that assesses and reports on the quality of a range of health care disciplines. Its recognition program is rigorous: For the most recent application, Clinic Manager Mandy Ferrel and the Cerner team compiled 500-plus pages of documentation and reporting of workflows, processes and outcomes that demonstrated high standards for quality.

Level 3 PCMH recognition shows a commitment to access, health information technology and coordinated care focused on patients, according to Mandy, who oversees day-to-day operations at Children's Mercy Employee Wellness Center. Few of the thousands of primary care practices applying for the recognition achieve it, and the clinic for Children's Mercy employees is the first of Cerner’s 41 sites to earn the distinction.

“Level 3 recognition from NCQA is a mark of quality for the Employee Wellness Center, just as it is for our own clinics,” said Carolyn Ehlers, Director, Compensation, Benefits and Wellness. “It’s confirmation that the care and service employees and their family members receive is first-rate – which of course is what we expect.”

Children's Mercy five primary care sites (Beacon Clinic, Children’s Mercy West, Teen Primary Care, Operation Breakthrough and Primary Care Clinics on Broadway) also have achieved 2017 NCQA PCMH recognition for their pediatric primary care clinics with behavioral health integration distinction.

“The medical home concept is in many ways a return to the goals of family medicine and the close relationship patients have had with primary care providers for years,” Dr. Bednar says.

Feels like (medical) home

“Medical home” – the “MH” in “PCMH” – is a philosophy of primary care that is comprehensive and coordinated for each patient across all disciplines and locations. It’s often described as the future of primary care.

But for William Bednar, MD, who brings 25 years of experience to his current work as an Employee Wellness Center physician, the idea of a medical home harkens back to the kind of care he remembers from his youth.

“I grew up in a close-knit community in Arkansas, where everyone knew each other,” Dr. Bednar said. “You went to ‘the doctor,’ who knew you and your family and had a broad picture of you as the patient beyond just an organ system.”

Early in his career as a family physician, he and his peers in private practice maintained that kind of relationship with patients.

“As things grew larger, some of that was lost,” he said.

But with technology that can centralize patient information in a medical home, a comprehensive view of each patient’s care, no matter where it is delivered or by whom, is possible again.

“The medical home concept is in many ways a return to the goals of family medicine and the close relationship patients have had with primary care providers for years,” Dr. Bednar said.

“It gives structure to what we had before, with an ability to appreciate the whole person and a support system that allows me and all providers at the Employee Wellness Center to know our patients, give them extra time, dig a little deeper.

“While the days of the small-town doctor may be gone, the ideal of compassionate and personal care in family medicine lives on,” he said.

Or as Mandy put it: “The key value of our appointments in the Employee Wellness Center is in the two club chairs in the care suite. We build relationships with patients.”

All of which the NCQA recognition reflects.

High expectations

Children's Mercy Employee Wellness Center continues to be Cerner’s “living lab,” where new technology and services are introduced. That’s partly because it’s Cerner’s largest employer-hosted health clinic and is located in the company’s hometown.

It’s also because Children's Mercy expects the best for employees.

“Our providers get new things in their hands as much as two years before Cerner’s other employer-hosted clinics, and that’s because Children's Mercy is a great innovative partner with high expectations for performance,” Mandy said.

“Children's Mercy set ambitious metrics that Cerner made a commitment to meet,” Mandy said. “And over the past four years, we’re proud to have achieved 100 percent of them.”