Imagine having a team of health care professionals dedicated to keeping you healthy year-round by preventing the onset of diseases and managing your chronic medical conditions to avoid costly complications and hospitalizations.
That’s the mission of thousands of primary care practices nationwide that have embraced the “patient centered medical home” model that emphasizes prevention and disease management. Advocates say medical homes have the potential to improve quality, cut costs and reduce health inequities among all patients.
More than 9,000 primary care practices and 43,000 clinicians (doctors and nurse practitioners) across the country have earned the PCMH designation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the nation’s largest credentialing organization.
Medical homes focus on patients even when they’re not present at the office. The team takes a proactive approach to health rather than waiting for patients to show up at the practice when they’re sick, It’s about being there when patients are sick and reaching out to them to find out how they’re doing when they’re not sick.
What Is a Medical Home?
Medical homes refer to a way of delivering primary care that helps people stay healthy by keeping up with preventive care and managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension and heart disease. In a medical home, a team of health care professionals partners with patients to coordinate every aspect of care. Providers use electronic tools to remind patients about screenings and track outcomes. Some insurers offer medical homes financial incentives for meeting quality and other standards.
Experts expect interest in medical homes to increase as health reform shifts the nation’s focus from illness to wellness. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover preventive care at no out-of-pocket cost to patients and institutes payment reforms that financially reward health care providers who coordinate care.