Medical home experiments seen as way to cut costs

While the U.S. healthcare system continues to be the most pricey in the world by a large margin, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Innovation Center is quietly finding ways to cut costs for delivering care, with most of the efforts focused for the moment on patient-centered medical homes.

A variety of experiments are occurring throughout the U.S. along those lines to try and improve care while cutting costs, according to StateLine.

"The idea is to take governors up on their claim that states are the laboratories of democracy where meaningful innovations can occur," Susan Dentzer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation told StateLine.

One of the most common projects is the use of patient-centered medical homes, which is expected to improve care for patients by ensuring they have a regular and routine source of care. States such as Vermont, Minnesota, Arkansas and Maine are experimenting with one form of patient-centered medical homes or another, accoding to StateLine.

Medical homes have shown the ability to create significant savings and improve the quality of care. A project in Michigan has saved some $155 million, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

In addition to restructuring the notion of primary care, medical home initiatives are also driving new healthcare construction. Washington, D.C., for example, is building a new community health center specifically to deploy the district's initiative for medical homes, the Washington Informer reported.

The deployment of medical homes is getting traditional providers, such as hospitals, to rethink their building plans, according to Healthcare Design magazine. Medical homes need to be near patients so organizaitons are building many of them in strip malls or next to existing medical practices.

"The doctors are the ones who say, 'Here is our concept, design something around it,'" Martin Valins, principal at the healthcare architecture firm Stantec told Healthcare Design. "It's a blank design slate influenced primarily by the operational policies of the healthcare practitioners."

However, healthcare experts say that the industry can't measure medical homes by their design and implementation, but rather the actual results they reap.

To learn more:
- read the Washington Informer article
- here's the StateLine article
- check out the Healthcare Design article

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