Affordable Care Act: Primary care centers


by Jay Crandall

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 26 at 7:19 PM

PHOENIX -- Supporters of the new health care law hope that more people with more insurance will mean that we all will seek care in right place. Another goal is to focus on preventing problems before they become serious.

A big part of that might be a new kind of clinic popping up all over the valley, catering to all health care needs. It's basically like a one-stop shop of healthcare.

6 year old Kailyn has been battling a recurring fever for several months. And while dealing with it on a case-by-case basis at an ER or urgent care has been an option, her mom Jolyn Lackey was looking to get to the bottom of it once and for all.

That's what brought her to Banner Primary Care, one of Banner Health's Community Health Centers.

"We have pediatricians, we have family medicine, we have internal medicine all on-site," says Banner’s Toni Eberhardt.

Banner, already a key player in hospitals, is moving into what many see as the future of health care: primary care clinics.

"Everything from your basic services, lab, radiology, pharmacy, behavioral health and dentistry," says Tara McCollum-Plese of AZ Alliance for Community Health Centers. "That's what they refer to as a medical home."

Dr. Christopher Bonati says the model enables him to focus on patients, not business. "Having Banner here to support the business side of things makes it easy for me to do what I really like to do, which is seeing patients and taking care of them," he says.

And with a larger system, doctors can better track patients, thanks to electronic medical records.

"Just the quality," says Dr. Bonati. "I don't think if i was able to open up a practice, I could have a lab on-site."

That quality of care will be key to whether these clinics succeed, according to McCollum-Plese. "You're going to have these groups that are not going to be charged for just for every single procedure that they perform, but they're looking at the quality of the health care that they're providing."

The whole idea is keeping patients like little Kailyn healthy now and in the future. "We work with the patients on preventative care," says Eberhardt. "So to prevent an issue from going so far that it is actually a risk to their life, and that is why we really want to emphasize this as being a medical home, so patients look at it as part of their life."