Medical Homes Reduce Hospital Admissions, But Primary Care Ill-Equipped to Build Them

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Some concrete ROI on the impact of medical homes today, as Reuters reports that the establishment of medical homes by Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania has cut hospital admissions by 20 percent and healthcare costs by 7 percent.

The program could serve as a model for U.S. healthcare reform, researchers reported in the journal Health Affairs.

However, another study released today indicates that before that can occur, primary care practices must equip themselves with the essential tools to transform themselves into medical homes. The study, by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), UC Berkeley, and the University of Chicago,appears in the September/October issue of Health Affairs.

When researchers examined large medical groups with at least 20 physicians, they found that these physician practices are lagging on key measures of what it takes to create a “medical home,” a model of healthcare delivery that emphasizes comprehensive primary care to ensure the best outcomes for patients:

  • Whether physicians work closely with other healthcare providers in patient care “teams”;
  • How well care is coordinated and integrated;
  • Whether care is delivered in ways that maximize quality and safety;
  • Whether patients can reach physicians in nontraditional ways, such as by e-mail. Researchers also looked at physicians’ use of electronic medical records, disease registries, patient reminders, and performance feedback as well as their distribution of educational materials to patients.
  • The medical home model is now widely recognized by healthcare providers, large employers such as IBM, and increasingly patients as a promising blueprint for delivering comprehensive care over a patient’s lifespan.

    Results of a similar study of practices with less than 20 physicians will be released next year.

    The privately held Geisinger Health System is a network of network of hospitals and clinics that works with private insurers and caters directly to 2.5 million people in Pennsylvania.

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