Medical homes in practice

February 1, 2010

A panel of experts offers insight into experiences and future promise for the patient-centered medical home model

Healthcare is notorious for trying out solutions that seem to work in theory, only to watch them collapse in practice. Like throwing spaghetti at the wall, players from all segments have experimented, looking for new ideas that might stick.

Since 2006, more than 30 states have initiated projects to apply the medical-home concept to Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs. Reduced costs, better support for chronic care and improved population health are the impetus behind the local efforts, which comprehensively hold the potential to effect system change, piece by piece.

The general arrangement of a team of clinicians providing a home base of individualized, coordinated care and prevention emerged through the American Academy of Pediatrics in the 1960s for specific pediatric populations. It wasn't until recent years-as the industry began to focus more on healthcare value-that the medical-home idea was identified as a potential formula for improvement of service delivery within broader primary care practice.

In 2007, four major physician groups defined a set of joint principles to describe a patient-centered medical home, which was soon followed by the creation of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), which represents employers, plans, providers and other organizations that endorse the principles. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is currently in the process of updating standards for its medical-home recognition program, which were initially released in January 2008.

Policymakers and the healthcare industry continue to assess the local projects, anxious to determine their financial worth and their promise for large-scale implementation.

MANAGED HEALTHCARE EXECUTIVE recently brought together a roundtable of executive thought leaders to discuss the issues related to patient-centered medical homes. The panel includes: