Jonesboro Family Medical Center at UAMS Northeast Earns Highest Patient-Centered Status

By Ben Boulden

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) awarded Level III, the highest level patient-centered medical home (PCMH) recognition, to the Jonesboro Family Medical Center after its Level III assessment.

UAMS Northeast is a regional center of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

“We are pleased to have received this recognition from the NCQA as a level III PCMH,” said Ron Cole, director of UAMS Northeast. “This accomplishment is the result of a team effort that will benefit our patients. Not only will we better manage our chronically ill patients, we plan to provide proactive services to help our patients avoid or delay the onset of illness through education and wellness efforts. Our work will continue as we integrate educational and the social sciences into our comprehensive care model.”

The patient-centered medical home creates partnerships between individual patients, their physicians and the patient’s family. Care is facilitated by registries, information technology and health information exchange, so patients get the indicated care when and where they need and want it.

“UAMS Northeast has always led the way in implementing the PCMH model,” said Mark Mengel, M.D., UAMS vice chancellor for regional programs. “A lot of credit goes to the collaborative style of Ron Cole, its director, and his team’s passion and skill in implementing the many tasks associated with the PCMH model, and the residents’ and faculty’s willingness to support this change.”

In 2012, several of the regional family medical centers, including the Jonesboro center, earned Level II status. UAMS spent $6-$8 million to hire additional personnel and purchase information technology to better integrate patient care at the regional centers. New software was used to create a disease registry and standardize data entry for electronic medical records.

It also means for patients same-day appointments, quickly answered telephone calls, an on-call resident they can reach after hours and on weekends, and overall improved care coordination. With the patient-centered medical home model, more frequent communication takes place outside the exam room between each patient and each center’s physicians and staff. Between visits, more is done to monitor a patient’s condition and help the patient stay on a treatment plan.

In addition to improving patient outcomes, the model promises to cut costs by reducing the need for hospitalization or emergency room care. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, seven medical home demonstration projects at primary care practices reported a 6 percent to 40 percent reduction in hospitalizations, a 7 percent to 29 percent decline in emergency room visits and a savings of $71-$640 per patient.

Nationally, about a quarter of the primary care practices have adopted the patient-centered medical home model.

Mengel said the other UAMS regional centers are on track to achieve Level III— later this year.

The NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care. It has worked with leading national medical organizations like the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians to develop PCMH recognition standards.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report recognized UAMS Medical Center as a Best Hospital for 2021-22; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide for the third year; and named five areas as high performing — colon cancer surgery, diabetes, hip replacement, knee replacement and stroke. Forbes magazine ranked UAMS as seventh in the nation on its Best Employers for Diversity list. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationwide on Forbes’ Best Employers for Women list and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.