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Patient-Centered Medical Homes reduce costs of care and ED visits, report says


As more primary care practices look to adopt the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model, a new report shows that it may be effective in reducing the cost of care and the number of visits patients make to the emergency department (ED).

“The Patient-Centered Medical Home’s Impact on Cost and Quality: An Annual Update of the Evidence, 2012-2013,” released by the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), analyzed 20 of the most recent peer-reviewed studies on medical homes, and it shows improvements in several key areas.

About 60% showed a decreased in the cost of patient care and in the number of visits to the ED for unnecessary care. About 30% saw improvements in population health indicators and preventative health services, such as screenings and immunizations. About 30% reported greater access to primary care physicians.

“The research here suggests that when fully transformed primary care practices embrace this model of care, we can expect a number of consistent, positive outcomes across a number of clinical and financial measures,” Marci Nielsen, PhD, MPH, CEO of the PCPCC, said in a press release. “The PCMH has undergone an impressive expansion over the last several years, reaching across all corners of the health care marketplace, from health plans to federal agencies, from employers to state Medicaid programs. As a result we are seeing an increase in the frequency and rigor of PCMH evaluations that will help us not only identify where the PCMH is succeeding, but ultimately the driving factors behind that success.”

Only one of the 20 studies the report analyzed included information on how the PCMH model impacts physician satisfaction, so that information was not included in the report.

However, separate studies have found slight increases in satisfaction among providers and their patients. A yearlong study of a PCMH in Los Angeles found that residents’ rating of “good” or “excellent” rose from 47% to 57%.

Only 30% of adults who possess risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes believe they are at risk, presenting physicians with challenges on how to reach these patients.

Beginning this spring, it will be easier for insurance companies, patients, and watchdogs to get payment information about individual physicians due to a policy change by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.