Medical homes standards released

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The new standards call on medical practices to be more patient-centered, and reinforce federal ?meaningful use? incentives for primary care practices to adopt health information technology.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has released new standards for its Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) program. The new standards call on medical practices to be more patient-centered, and reinforce federal “meaningful use” incentives for primary care practices to adopt health information technology.

The PMCH program has experienced a 3,400% increase in recognized clinicians and a 5,200% increase in recognized sites since 2008, according to NCQA. As of the end of 2010, almost 7,700 clinicians at more than 1,500 sites across America used NCQA standards.

Patricia Barrett, vice president, Product Development for NCQA, says health insurers can take steps to support the growth of the medical home model.

"Health plans can create the conditions for primary care practices to make the big changes necessary to become medical homes," she says. "Insurers can reform fee-for-service’s emphasis on volume over value, and instead reward continuous, proactive care. Health plans also make a crucial difference when they invest in HIT and other infrastructure.

PCMH 2011 directs practices to organize care according to patients’ preferences and needs. Standards emphasize access to care during and after office hours, and managing care in collaboration with patients and families. Other aspects of patient-centeredness include providing services in patients’ preferred languages, helping patients with self-care and facilitating patient access to community resources.

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