3 patient-centered medical home tips for small practices

While many practices regard becoming a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) as a better way to deliver medicine, new payment models make it an appealing way to do business as well. In particular, starting in 2019, practices that certify as a PCMH will be able to reap the benefits of Medicare's new alternative payment model program by receiving a five percent pay bonus while avoiding the downside risk often associated with other value-based payment models, Medical Economics reported.

But to get credit, transformation is not enough. The certification process, which involves an extensive application with an accrediting body, can be especially challenging for small practices with limited resources. However, the following tips can help smooth the path:

  • Use Regional Extension Centers (RECs). Your local REC likely hosts seminars and other events to help walk you through the PCMH certification process. And according to practices who've taken advantage of these resources, it's time well spent. "If you're going to invest the money in a survey tool, software, and a practice transformation, it makes sense to go that one extra step and invest a day or two in hearing from experts what's the best way to prove it," said Salvatore S. Volpe, M.D., a solo primary care physician in New York.
  • Hire interns. Partnering with local colleges has advantages for both students and practices, according to Edward Bujold, M.D., who leads North Carolina's first practice to become a level-3 certified PCMH. While students enrolled in health information programs gain valuable work experience at cutting-edge organizations, practices get a manpower boost at no extra cost, he explained.
  • Get the module. Using a PCMH module integrated into an electronic health record (EHR) system may involve an extra fee, which small practices often find pays for itself. Even at a cost of $25 per physician per month to use the reporting tool offered through their EHR, Gail Cetto, R.N., office manager at Auburn, Massachusetts-based Grove Medical Associates, told Medical Economics that the module was a better solution for the HIMSS Davies Award winner than using a paper workbook and manually pulling charts.

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