Thanks to a partnership with the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Grace Medical Home, a low-cost clinic for uninsured patients, is one of just 10 charitable clinics nationwide to receive national recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home. The designation means Grace has demonstrated evidence-based, patient-centered care that combines teams of healthcare providers, expanded hours and health information technology to help patients be more actively engaged in their own care.

Grace Medical worked with the medical school’s Regional Extension Center (REC), which helps physicians and practices across the region to implement and meaningfully use electronic health record systems to improve patient care. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has also designated the REC as a Partner in Quality, meaning it can help clinics achieve recognition as Patient-Centered Medical Homes. Such recognition proves a facility has a coordinated care model and may make it eligible for incentives from insurance providers.

Patient-Centered Medical Homes and other healthcare reforms are designed to improve care and the patient experience while reducing costs.

Grace Medical Home’s designation distinguishes the center as one of the first low-cost clinics nationally to achieve such recognition. “Patient care at Grace has always been our first priority,” said founder Dr. Marvin Hardy. “We are humbled and honored to receive recognition that reaffirms that. We believe that the low income and underserved deserve nothing less than the highest level of medical care.”

To achieve this recognition, Grace Medical Home and the REC worked together for 1½ years to improve processes and procedures to emphasize preventative, coordinated care and increased communication between patients and their physicians. Grace extended its hours and ensured that patients received follow-up calls after being discharged from the hospital or emergency room. The clinic also calls patients to remind them of deadlines for preventative tests like blood work and mammograms. The clinic changed operations to set aside certain hours for same-day appointments. It also set healthcare goals such as reducing blood pressures and blood sugar readings over a set period of time for diabetic and cardiovascular patients.

The goal, said REC Director Lindsay Schagrin, is to create a medical home where the patient’s primary care physician serves as a “quarterback” coordinating care for the whole person and building a team with the patient. “As healthcare works to improve the quality of care and the patient experience and also cut costs, the patient-centered medical home provides a framework for that vision to be realized,” she said. “This recognition distinguishes Grace Medical Home as a premier healthcare provider in Central Florida with a demonstrated commitment to providing exceptional medical care to those most in need.”

Stephanie Garris, executive director of Grace Medical Home, described the UCF Regional Extension Center as “a wonderful partner in this effort. They helped us at every step in the process and offered incredible advice. We are grateful for their support and leadership and couldn’t have achieved this recognition without their guidance.”

The PCMH recognition is valid for three years.