Before the individual mandate is ever enforced or insurance exchanges established, the federal health care reform law that’s roiled the nation may fundamentally change the way Rhode Islanders with cognitive disabilities and Alzheimer’s disease are treated.
Through its support of experimental ways of reducing health care costs, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is sending $14 million to a University of Rhode Island program for coordinating care – and the teaching of care – for the cognitively challenged.
Over the three-year grant period, a URI team led by associate research professor Elaina Goldstein will set up two “Living Rite” clinics at centers for the disabled where a new system of integrated care will be tested.
The clinics follow the emerging “integrated” care model where treatment is coordinated between specialists and aimed at improving overall patient health, instead of the traditional model focused on providing individual services.
Instead of being in a hospital or doctor’s office, the clinics will be at centers, like AccessPoint RI (the former Cranston ARC), where people with cognitive disabilities already go for recreation, adult day care or to work.
“People with developmental disabilities and Alzheimer’s are coming to these places five times a week for recreation and activities and preventative health care,” Goldstein said. “Now we are talking about how they can get their chronic care.”
And the new clinics will be equipped with the latest in “telemedicine” equipment that allows the staff to not only communicate with physicians and specialists in remote locations, but provide them with images, such as scans, and data that allow diagnosis and consultation. The clinics will be designed by Ximedica of Providence with telemedicine equipment coming from Nalari Health of Providence.