Study: Medical homes boost quality, cut costs

The patient-centered medical home model is looking sexier by the minute, with studies increasingly suggesting that it works well on financial and clinical grounds. This time, it's a study done by the Group Health Cooperative, which suggests that widespread use of the model could cut costs of care for patients, and even reduce the country's shortage of primary-care doctors.

The study compared 9,200 patients from Group Health's medical homes to a control group. After a year, researchers found that patient visits to the emergency department fell by 29 percent among the medical home patients, while hospitalization rates went down 11 percent. All of this happened despite the fact that patient visits were down 6 percent.

How did this happen? Well, among other things, patients in a medical-home-style primary care practice get more one-on-one time with physicians and more preventive care. The model also improves caregiver cooperation with physicians, they concluded.

Part of the reason physicians were able to sustain such care, meanwhile, was that they made smart use of email and mobile phones to do labor-intensive parts of their jobs, such as managing chronic illnesses and monitoring medications.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Healthcare Finance News piece

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