In the Spotlight

A New Model of Health Care: Patient Aligned Care Teams

Contributed by Douglas Walker

health care provider examining patient as nurse assists

You have probably heard how VA is changing to a new model of health care delivery. You may be wondering what this is all about and why VA is changing. After all, VA is one of the leaders in primary care and has accomplished a lot over the last fifteen years. The simple answer is VA wants to take primary care to the next level and bring all the pieces together as a cohesive, highly functional team focused on your goals and needs. We call this the Patient Aligned Care Team or PACT.

What is a Patient Aligned Care Team?

With Patient Aligned Care Teams, VA is embracing what is known as the patient centered medical home model. This model of care features a team of health care professionals. The team is led by a personal provider working to provide continuous and coordinated care throughout a patient's lifetime. The basic idea is that having one team responsible for coordinating all of your care leads to better health outcomes. You will notice similar models are being embraced throughout the medical community.

What Does Patient Aligned Care Team Mean for You?

woman helping a man with blood pressure cuff

The biggest change is that your health care is now delivered by a team that includes you, the Veteran. Your relationship with your primary care provider will not change. It will be enhanced by the extra help and support the team can provide. You make decisions about your health care with support and guidance from members of your team. Your Patient Aligned Care Team is tailor made to meet your health care needs. You see and interact with some team members on a regular basis. They are your primary care provider and the staff who work in the primary care clinic. You will see other team members, like specialists, social workers, pharmacists or dietitians when you need or want to. Your Patient Aligned Care Team is there to empower you. They will help you take control of your health.

There is also a change in how your care is provided. You will eventually be able to interact with your Patient Aligned Care Team: by a visit, a phone call, a video conference or through Secure Messaging here on My HealtheVet. You will have access to your test results and be able to request appointments on My HealtheVet.

Our goal is to help you stay healthy. Providing health information and reminding you about recommended preventive care is an important part of Patient Aligned Care Teams. If you agree, your family or caregiver can also participate in care decisions.

Veterans will benefit from less fragmented care. You will have a personal team that knows you, and you know them. This will help prevent duplication of services. With Patient Aligned Care Teams, patients stay healthier and happier. With Patient Aligned Care Teams, your health care is focused on you.

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Updated/Reviewed: December 1, 2010