Group Health rolls out major medical home initiative

The conversation about the "medical home" model--one which, in essence, blends the tools of high tech patient population management with some old fashioned care giving--is quickly moving from an academic one to one that's filtering into the popular consciousness. That's due, in part, to the fact that health reform legislation could conceivably include money and incentives designed to foster the creation of medical homes. It's also because the concept is rolling out quickly (if somewhat quietly) across the U.S.

One emerging leader in the medical home business is Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle HMO that soon will convert 26 Washington and Idaho clinics to medical homes. Group Health's announcement comes in the wake of a two-year pilot that cut emergency department visits by 29 percent and hospitalizations by 11 percent.

Group Health's medical homes will assign primary-care doctors 1,800 patients--as compared with the 2,400 that were previously typical--giving doctors a bit more time to spend with each patient. These practices will make sure a medical assistant prepares for patient visits in advance by determining if they need tests or preventive services, hopefully keeping patients healthy longer.

Meanwhile, when patients go to the ED or are hospitalized, a nurse calls the next day to see how the patient is doing. That same nurse responds in 24 hours to calls between visits.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece

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