New Medical Practice Will Improve Efficiency, Quality of Care
DAMARISCOTTA - When the Miles Medical Group and John F. Andrews Family Care Center physicians became Lincoln Medical Partners this summer, hardly anyone noticed.
In Boothbay Harbor's Family Care Center, Aquilino Alamo, MD, continued to offer the same level of personal care, making home visits when necessary. In Wiscasset, Daniel Friedland, MD, still accepted all patients regardless of insurance coverage.
But while patients noticed few changes beyond the logo on their doctor's stationery, the formation of Lincoln Medical Partners creates a framework to improve efficiency and access to medical care in Lincoln County well into the future.
By bringing most of the county's physicians into one practice, Lincoln County Healthcare, the parent company of Miles and St. Andrews hospitals, is working to improve care by improving communication between care providers.
Multispecialty practices in Maine and elsewhere in the country have been able to reduce medical errors and contain costs by using electronic medical record systems to help primary care providers and specialty care physicians communicate and by pooling financial resources to invest in appropriate technology and recruit physicians.
Jim Donovan, CEO of Lincoln County Healthcare, said that by bringing the practices together, Lincoln County Healthcare is working to improve access to physicians, and insure that every patient has the best possible experience during every phase of their care.
"We want our patients to be the focus and center of all we do," said Donovan.
Dr. Friedland said the use of electronic medical records by the new practice should improve communication between doctors and make it easier for patients to access to specialty services in Lincoln County.
Currently, when a patient is referred to a specialist, it can be difficult for the patient's primary care physician and the specialist to communicate about all aspects of the patients' previous care. Those gaps in communication can lead to unnecessary tests and medical errors.
When Lincoln Medical Partner's electronic medical record system is online, patients will have a single chart that will be available to both primary care providers and specialists, reducing the possibility of unnecessary or redundant tests.
Using similar software systems should also make it possible to share staff between different offices within Lincoln Medical Partners, allowing one staff member to move to another practice if a staff member at that other practice is sick.
Those kinds of changes will go unnoticed by most patients, but over time, they will help keep costs down and allow doctors to focus more on patient care and less on administrative details.
"Lincoln Medical Partners is nothing more than the two physician groups joining together for efficiencies of administration and to improve the quality of care, the access to care and the delivery of care," said Dr. Friedland.