The important role primary care physicians play in the patient-centered medical home

Managing a patient’s care, to ensure the patient remains healthy and to catch potentially serious diagnoses early, is one of the main focuses of a primary care physicians. Most patients look to the primary care physician to coordinate their care with specialty providers, labs, and healthcare facilities. The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) enables this coordination to happen, continuously throughout a patient’s life.

The primary care physician’s role is vital to the patient in a PCMH, both from the perspective of the patient’s overall health and because of the current trend toward value-based care. The number of patient visits is no longer as important as the outcome of those visits, for the patient and for the physician.

In a PCMH, the provider has the ability to monitor a patient’s health status long-term, across multiple visits throughout various stages of the patient’s life. The primary care physician is able to engage the patient, to ask pointed questions, and to observe changes or signs that may need further exploration by a specialty provider or diagnostic lab.

The independent physician working with a patient who has been diagnosed with a chronic condition has a more involved role in coordinating care for that patient. Patients with chronic or complex conditions generally see multiple providers and require focused coordination throughout their care. A PCMH home for that patient enables the primary care provider to more effectively manage the patient’s coordinated care.

From the patient’s perspective, a 2015 survey conducted by Accenture showed that “a majority of patients want their care managed at one central point.” Almost 87% of those participating in the survey said that “that their primary care providers should be the epicenter of all of this care coordination.”

Engaging and communicating with patients throughout their diagnosis and care plan can also encourage patients to become more involved in their own healthcare, which has been shown to be significant in their overall outcomes.