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What studies say about patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs)

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The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) structure enables the primary care physician to provide continuous and coordinated care to patients from a home base. All of the patient’s healthcare needs, including preventative services, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, and even end-of-life care, are arranged for from within the PCMH. The idea behind the concept is that a primary care provider who sees a patient for essentially everything throughout the patient’s life span can provide higher quality, value-based healthcare to that patient.

Approximately 45 percent of family physicians now practice under the model, within a medical home. In July 2017, the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) released a report that looked at the link between these PCMH practices and quality outcomes for their patients. The report, The Impact of Primary Care Practice Transformation on Cost, Quality, and Utilization, was the sixth annual edition, authored by the Robert Graham Center of the American Academy of Family Physicians and published with support from the Milbank Memorial Fund.

PCPCC studied 45 peer-reviewed reports and additional government and state evaluations, to determine the impact of PCMHs on the quality of patient outcomes. The report “found decreased costs and better results in more mature initiatives and for patients with more complex conditions.” Some of the practices included in the study were relatively new, with only one or two years of experience as a PCMH; however, the report found that “gradual changes to the model have demonstrated improvement in the patient experience.”

The PCMH model provides higher quality coordinated care and communication for the patient. The structure enables the primary care physician to develop a long-term relationship with the patient as well, which has been proven to improve the quality of care provided to that patient.

As healthcare transitions from a fee-for-service to a value-based care model, the PCMH structure has been shown, in most cases, to provide quality patient outcomes, and is particularly beneficial for patients who require coordinated care.