Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Medical Home...Are we on to something?

There have been 2 recent articles (one in a Boston publication and one in an upstate New York publication) about the concept of the medical home. This term is thrown around an awful lot these days and means much more than just a solo or group of primary care providers. This is a patient-centered approach to care that uses a coordinated effort by a team of health care professionals focusing on preventative health services right through hospitalizations. You can see the wikipedia definition of medical home here. Professional organizations such as the AAFP, AAP, & ACP (among others) have even adopted formal policy statements on this.

One of the main reasons that this concept hasn't gone anywhere is because the coordination of this type of care (the phone call consults, e-mails, paperwork, etc) hasn't traditional been reimbursed by insurance companies. These new pilot projects are attempting to remedy that. Also encouraging is that NPs are being utilized in this model and are leading the team of professionals.

I am encouraged by this model and anticipate that it will not only improve patient outcomes but will also drive down costs of health care. This is the part that is largely unknown: will it curb the needless spending and duplication of tests/screenings ordered for what is largely considered defensive medicine and will outcomes improve by keeping folks out of the hospital?

Communication and team work are the cornerstones to the success of the model. I am hopeful that healthcare professionals will understand this, work together and keep it patient-focused. Stay tuned....

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