A lot has changed since Dr. Harold Tucker first began practicing medicine 45 years ago. Apart from the obvious technological advancements made through the years, Tucker — a gastroenterologist, and now the Chief Medical Officer of Greater Baltimore Medical Center and President of GBMC Health Partners — says he believes the profession was far more collegial than it often is now. The relationship between doctors and their patients was more personal, too.
With one eye toward the medical promise of new technologies and one eye toward the patient-centered health care of the past, Tucker helped launch a new physician group at GBMC that is likely to revolutionize the business of medicine.
Formed in 2017, GBMC Health Partners is a collective of more than 300 doctors, specialists and practitioners — as well as hundreds of support staff — who work together to address a patient’s needs from birth onward. The group is made up of a diverse pool of medical professionals who represent a range of medical specializations, all of whom have an affiliation with GBMC and use the health system’s unified electronic medical record, so that coordinating patient care is a seamless process.
“We designed our care system to be a medical home — that is, a system where the primary care physicians actually have the time to see their patients and build relationships,” Tucker says. “We combine that strong foundation of primary care with a roster of specialists who can accommodate the needs of patients as they age and have life changes.”
Here’s what else Tucker had to say about how GBMC Health Partners is changing health care.
Why should patients be excited about this new model?
We took a really purposeful approach to integrating our care. We have primary care physicians, medical and surgical specialists, pediatricians, obstetricians, intensive care physicians — it’s a continuum of care from the time you’re born until you need end-of-life care. Conceptually, we are partners with our patients as well as each other, and we coordinate closely to provide the best, most efficient care possible.
Is it appealing to physicians, too?
Absolutely. Our physicians want to provide quality health care, and want to work with colleagues who feel the same way. We’re really proud to be associated with a great hospital like GBMC, and because we operate under their umbrella, it means the business side of things is already taken care of. It’s an exciting and empowering environment to be in.
How else has being a doctor changed since you started out?
It’s dramatically different. Oftentimes, doctors see their patients in their offices but never step foot in the hospital, where their patients are their sickest. Sometimes specialists have very little interaction outside their offices. When I first started, there was a much closer relationship, physician-to-physician. It’s part of the reason we wanted to band together with GBMC Health Partners — to form a team mentality. We’ve created a real esprit de corps in our community of physicians behind that mission.
New patients don’t need a referral to join GBMC Health Partners. More information is available at GBMC.org/healthpartners.
Saralyn Lyons is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.