Department of Medicine’s JOHN HOUK, MD, Hawai`i Medical Assocation’s “Physician of the Year”

For more than a decade, Dr. John Houk as championed the concept of the “Patient-Centered Medical Home”. During a ceremony in which he was named “Physician of the Year” by the Hawai`i Medical Assocation, Dr. Houk said patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is ushering in “rebirth” of primary care.

“A Doctor’s Doctor”
In his introduction to Dr. Houk at the 2012 Ola Pono Ike honors ceremony, Dr. Kalani Brady described PCMH this way: “(PCMH) involves placing the patient at the piko, or center of their care, with a primary care physician quarterbacking the myriad of complex medical interventions and treatments for the patient.” Dr. Brady also called Dr. Houk “a visionary working hard to bring about the future of medicine.” And, calling Houk “a doctor’s doctor,” he said several of Honolulu’s physicians having chosen Dr. Houk to be their own clinician.

In his remarks, Dr. Houk thanked the Hawai`i Medical Association, and his wife, Jane, his spouse of 38 years. He also recognized his daughters, Ashley and Laura, and “my wonderful and dedicated staff. Their support, their behind the scenes dedicated work, played a large part in this award.”

Rebirth of Primary Care Medicine: Dr. Houk’s remarks:
“Six years ago the New England Journal of Medicine published an article entitled, “Primary Care, Will It Survive?” Just three years ago at an American College of Physicians meeting a colleague proclaimed vigorously that, “Primary care is dead”. The problem of an American healthcare system without a base of primary care has been recognized for years. In virtually every other country, primary care comprises 80% of the physician workforce, but only 30% in the U.S. The late Dr. Barbara Starfield spent a lifetime heralding the benefits of primary care, with its emphasis to prevent and not just treat chronic disease. The birth of family practice in the 1970s, the RBRVS of the 1980s, and the Primary Care Gatekeeper of the 1990s were all attempts to establish primary care as the foundation of the healthcare system. For a variety of reasons, each failed to achieve this goal.

But I am happy tonight to announce a rebirth of primary care. We call it the Patient-Centered Medical Home. A decade ago I listened to Dr. Calvin Sia, a past recipient of this same award, when he introduced me to Medical Home. I learned that the Hawai`i Medical Association supported Dr. Sia in the 1980s, and they together championed the pediatric medical home as a superior model of care for special needs children. He emphasized team based care and collaboration among organized medicine, health insurers, and government to achieve healthcare reform.

Primary care is experiencing a rebirth in Hawai`i because of companies represented here tonight. Mr. Creighton Arita of TeamPraxis tirelessly told our profession to embrace Information Technology and predicted the advent of Pay For Quality. Mr. Mike Gold, CEO of HMSA, announced his goal to put the doctor-patient relationship back into the center of the healthcare system. He, and others like Mr. Hilton Raethel, committed the significant resources of HMSA to transform primary care practices into medical homes and begin to shift the focus of reimbursement from volume to quality. There are many others in the audience tonight, whose knowledge and hard work evolved into this vision of a healthcare system that embraces coordinated, accessible, quality team-based care that emphasizes prevention and management of populations.

The Patient-Centered Medical Home is what we PCPs (primary care physicians) have always done, offering preventive, acute and chronic disease management, but just trying to do it better, with new tools and new approaches to care. Across our state some 300 doctors have pledged to transform their primary care practices into medical homes. Tripler, Kaiser and Community Health Centers are doing likewise. Hawai`i Medical Association, I thank you for this honor. I am proud to be a member of this organization that has and will continue to support a model of healthcare that believes and supports primary care as the foundation of our healthcare system”.

About Ola Pono Ike
The Ola Pono Ike annual honors banquet recognizes the top physician of the year, legislative supporters (2012’s award went to state Rep. Ryan Yamane) and the incoming and outgoing officers of the Hawai`i Medical Association, including new President Dr. Stephen Kemble, a JABSOM alumnus. Also honored with the President’s Award, by outgoing HMA President Roger Kimura, was Dr. Satoru Izutsu, who served 30 years as JABSOM’s Director of Admissions. Dr. Bernard Fong was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, a portion of the proceeds from the HMA event were donated to the John A. Burns School of Medicine for student scholarships.

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