‘Elderly patients sometimes need more than medical care’
Dr. Varsha Bhan has been in medicine almost her entire life. She recalls her childhood on medical college campuses in India where her parents were both doctors – which ultimately led to her interest in biology and medicine. But she knew she wanted to provide more than health care to her patients.
Today, an internal medicine doctor at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., Dr. Bhan says health care is “beyond a doctor and a patient.” Some patients need ancillary services. This is why her practice joined ACO REACH, or Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access and Community Health. ACO REACH is the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ new value-based care program focused on promoting health equity and addressing care disparities, especially in underserved populations. Dr. Bhan saw the need for health equity when practicing during her residency program in the southside of Chicago, which led her to stay in the area to provide care.
“Elderly patients sometimes need more than medical care,” Dr. Bhan says. “They may need transportation to and from appointments, a case manager, social and behavioral health services, help with refilling prescriptions and more. ACO REACH allows my small office the support to provide broader care to patients.”
Access to these resources is extremely important in reducing the number of hospitalizations, improving quality of life and avoiding readmissions.
“Helping patients make appointments easily over the phone can even improve health equity,” Dr. Bhan says. “Not everyone has access to or are familiar with smartphones or computers.” This is something she and her staff encounter daily.
By being part of ACO REACH, Dr. Bhan is improving health equity for her patients and south Chicagoland. When asked what she tells others about ACO REACH, she explains the importance and need of going beyond treating patients. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone’s needs of all ages, including the elderly.
Learn more about our commitment to health equity in Illinois and Wisconsin.
About the Author
Blair Crane, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Missouri - Columbia and has more than six years of communication and marketing experience. Outside of work you can find her trying new restaurants and hanging out with her two cats.
Kudos to Dr Varsha Bhan and her office staff for their concern and assistance to the patient population that isn’t tech-savvy and who might fall to the wayside because of their “technology handicap”.