Medical home cuts ER visits with 400% return

Reinforcing the trend toward patient-centered medical homes (PCMH), providers in Colorado saw lower emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations for chronically ill patients, thanks to a PCMH pilot, according to an article in the September Health Affairs.

The preliminary results also showed the PCMH led to a whopping 250 percent to 400 percent return on investment for one payer participating in the Colorado Multipayer Patient-Centered Medical Home Pilot that ran from May 2009 through April 2012.

However, the PCMH's successes were not without difficulties. For instance, many practices had to deliver additional services to a large portion of patients whose employer-sponsored health plans refused to pay the increased fees associated with the patient-centered medical home, the article noted.

Despite such obstacles, PCMHs have been improving care at health organizations across the country. In New Jersey, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey's PCMH saw a 26 percent decline in ED visits and a 25 percent decrease in hospital readmissions in the program's first year.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently selected several providers in Colorado to participate in a demonstration project to further develop the PCMH concept, the Colorado Beacon Consortium announced late last month.

"This is not a short-term project, nor is it tinkering at the edges," Comprehensive Primary Care's program director Patrick Gordon said in a statement. "CPC has the potential to make broad-based, comprehensive transformation and payment reform a reality in primary care, which will have a lasting impact on the health of Western Colorado."

To learn more:
- read the Health Affairs abstract
- here's the Colorado Beacon Consortium announcement