Detroit Medical Center Lands $10M Award to Test New Primary Care Model


The Detroit Medical Center will receive nearly $10 million from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Health Care Innovation Awards program to test a new primary care and preventative health model in its emergency departments.

The program, which launched Monday, makes patient-centered medical care immediately accessible to patients without primary care physicians when they visit the emergency departments at DMC’s Harper University Hospital, Detroit Receiving Hospital, Sinai-Grace Hospital, and Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The idea is to meet patients where they are already seeking care to develop meaningful doctor-patient relationships, improve care coordination, and implement strategies to promote wellness.

“As a Detroit emergency physician, I understand the challenges and barriers our patients face as they try to access high quality primary care services,” says Dr. Suzanne White, the principal investigator and chief medical officer at DMC. “I see each day how the system could be improved. Patients lack access to after hours care, unscheduled visits, transportation, and most importantly, a welcoming environment where they feel comfortable and safe.”

With a focus on improving care for patients with diabetes, asthma, hypertension, heart failure, chronic lung disease, depression, and HIV, the program has identified those who visit the emergency room at least 10 times a year as a primary target group. Each patient will be assigned a multidisciplinary team of caregivers who will connect with the patient via face-to-face visits, telephone contact, and texting.

“…The ability to introduce this new primary care model means the next step in our adaption to this changing health care environment and mission to improve the way care is received in Detroit and area communities we serve every day, where we know there is great need,” says Joe Mullany, CEO of the Detroit Medical Center.

More than 70 percent of Detroit residents and those in the immediately surrounding area are medically underserved and the burden of chronic disease is high. Through its emergency departments, DMC has found that nearly 43 percent of screenings identify pre-diabetes.

While the number of visits to hospitals by those with diabetes is higher in Detroit than in other areas of the country, primary care office visits are much lower. As a result, more than 3,000 diabetes-related hospitalizations occur annually in Detroit, White says.