Boeing medical home pilot cuts healthcare costs 20 percent, improves care

Employer-based access to a personalized healthcare team 24 hours a day, seven days a week could be a new wave in patient care, if a pilot program recently completed by a Puget Sound, Wash., branch of Boeing is any indication.

The medical home program, which helped reduce health costs by 20 percent, focused on 750 employees who suffered from multiple "severe health issues," such as hypertension, diabetes and heart problems, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. Those employees were assigned doctor-nurse teams at several area hospitals, including The Everett Clinic, Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center and Renton, Wash.-based Valley Medical Center. Boeing worked with Regence BlueShield to have the care paid for via service and monthly fees.

Participating administrators, including Dr. Harold Dash, board president at The Everett Clinic, and Sherry Stoll, administrative director of ambulatory services at Virginia Mason, both agreed that the program is one that could catch on.

"This model demonstrated the ability to dramatically lower costs and improve the quality of care," Dash told the Business Journal.

This is not the first medical home program to have success. A study conducted last September by Group Health Cooperative showed that hospitalization rates and emergency department visits both fell significantly under such a model. However, the fact that the program is initiated through a private employer is innovative.

Other facilities throughout the country, like Richmond's Cross Over Ministry free clinics, are also slowly developing a medical home system. Last summer, the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation provided seven grants worth $25,000 a piece to safety-net providers to provide medical homes for uninsured and low-income patients who "otherwise might not have continuity of care," reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Elizabeth Croxton, executive director of the Love of Jesus Health Clinic--one of the participating clinics--pointed to that continuity as vital. "[It's] really been the most valuable breakthrough we have had," she said.

To learn more:
- read the Puget Sound Business Journal article
- read this Richmond Times-Dispatch piece