Standing up for senior health.
Name: Lisa Gibbs
Title: UC Irvine clinical professor of family medicine, associate director of the Program in Geriatrics, medical director of the SeniorHealth Center
Education: M.D., Stanford University
Project: Transformation of the Primary Care Practice to the Patient-Centered Medical Home Model
Innovation Profile is a monthly feature highlighting the work of a UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation fellow or grantee.
By Alec Rosenberg
It’s not easy growing old. The golden years can be challenged by a myriad of conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and memory loss that often overlap and are increasingly costly to treat.
UC Irvine’s Dr. Lisa Gibbs has seen the toll that time can take on the health of older adults and their caregivers – and she has dedicated her career to improving geriatric care.
Gibbs became interested in working with older adults during medical school at Stanford, where she became involved in research on Alzheimer’s disease. She nurtured that interest at UC Davis, where she completed her residency in family medicine and then a fellowship in geriatric medicine. “I realized how vulnerable this population is,” Gibbs said.
She pointed to a couple married for 50 years. The wife had dementia, but then her caregiver husband developed prostate cancer. “His care was probably delayed because he was so focused on caring for her,” Gibbs said. “Caregivers also need our care and attention.”
Gibbs leads a team dedicated to providing the best in geriatric care as medical director of the UC Irvine SeniorHealth Center and clinical professor for the Program in Geriatrics. She was granted a UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation fellowship to enhance that care by turning the center into the UC system’s first patient-centered medical home (PCMH) for seniors.
A patient-centered medical home is a physician-led team approach to providing comprehensive primary care. Unlike traditional primary care, the PCMH model proactively manages all levels of care for an entire patient population, rather than focusing only on patients when they seek care for illness or injury.
“We’re hoping that with an interdisciplinary team approach and improved care coordination that we’ll be able to increase the quality of care, improve patient satisfaction and reduce overall health care costs,” Gibbs said.
The SeniorHealth Center already places the patient and family at the center of care, coordinating in teams with geriatricians, psychologists, pharmacists, nurses and social workers, Gibbs said. The fellowship will help lead the center to enhance its services by adding key features:
- Open access to care, leaving time slots available for same-day appointments. “This should reduce visits to the emergency room,” Gibbs said. “Patients will be able to be seen right away by physicians who know them instead of going to urgent or emergency room care.”
- Electronic medical records to help track patient outcomes and population data.
- Self-care support and resources.
- Care management, including individualized care plans.
- Referral tracking and follow up.
- Continuous quality improvement.
UC Irvine plans to apply next year for National Committee for Quality Assurance certification as a patient-centered medical home. Then educators will develop related curriculum for medical students, residents and fellows to learn how to optimally care for older adults and share its findings throughout UC Health.
“UC is a leader in developing innovations,” Gibbs said. “We’re willing to look at different models and newly developed models of health care because we truly do care about delivering the best care and service.”
View Lisa Gibbs’ talk at the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation colloquium (begins at 8:46)