Personalized Care Leads to Quality Measure Victories for Rural Health Center

Milan Medical Center (MMC) is a well-oiled machine when it comes to addressing quality measures for their patient population, thanks in large part to Care Coordinator Elizabeth Hutcherson.

MMC is a rural health center located in the small West Tennessee town of Milan. While MMC cares for just over 400 attributed VHAN lives, the practice serves more than 5,000 patients overall. In her role, Hutcherson is responsible for receiving and analyzing incoming data from various payers and identifying care gaps and priorities for the provider team. She then facilitates individual patient visit goals based on these gaps and sets reminders for both patients and their clinicians. For providers, this includes notes in the EMR and, in some cases, physical notes on patient charts.

Hutcherson has been effective in supporting the practice. For annual wellness visits, MMC recently accomplished a 71% completion rate, compared to the average rate of 53% for similar practices with the same number of attributed lives within the VHAN network. Meanwhile, MMC boasts a completion rate average of 61% across quality measures for payor contracts.

“My job is to make sure patients get the very best care, that they are addressing prevention and taking the right steps for their health,” Hutcherson said. “It’s hard for providers who barely have time to get from one patient to the next. I’m focused on making it a little easier for them to identify what each patient really needs.”

Prior to joining MMC, Hutcherson worked as a school and event photographer and did her own portrait photography. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hutcherson was hired by the practice to screen patients and take temperatures as they arrived for appointments. She quickly transitioned into a newly formed role of care coordinator, which had been established by the practice to focus on closing care gaps and delivering more personalized care for patients.

“I didn’t come into this role with a medical background, but the staff at this practice is very much a family, and I felt I had all the resources available to make it work,” she said. “So, I was very much like, ‘let’s jump in and do this!’”

Hutcherson has found VHAN resources to be vital to her approach. She’s also developed a set of guiding principles for other professionals serving in a similar role.

“Our success comes from forging relationships with the providers and our support staff and earning their trust in me and in the role,” Hutcherson said. “I’ve also learned how important it is to have a good workflow, be organized, regularly set reminders and maintain open communication throughout the process.”

Hutcherson also believes in never making assumptions and always taking an individualized approach to each provider, based on their comfort with technology and communication style.

Born and raised in Milan, Hutcherson cares deeply about the success and sustainability of the local community. She regularly seeks ways to support local businesses. In fact, when she clocks out from her work at the practice, she often picks up shifts at a small local bakery. At Willow Whisk, Hutcherson does everything from caring for customers to decorating cookies and baking pastries.

Whether it’s processing hundreds of chocolate-dipped strawberry orders for Valentine’s Day or helping personalize health care for hundreds of patients, Hutcherson is always looking to hone her recipe for success.

“There’s always room for improvement,” she said. “This practice, this community, the businesses who serve it, all need to be successful. I’ll keep working hard to make sure I do my part.”

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