New medical home accreditation guidelines emphasize health IT

Four medical societies have released a new set of guidelines for organizations accrediting patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) that are more specific about health IT considerations than their original joint statement on the medical home concept, which came out in 2007. The societies that issued the guidelines are the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians and the American Osteopathic Association.

Whereas the 2007 statement simply called for information technology to be "utilized appropriately" in support of PCMH goals, the new guidelines recommend: "Recognition and accreditation programs related to the patient-centered medical home should actively work to align their standards, elements, characteristics, and/or measures with the meaningful use criteria [for government health IT incentives]."

In addition, the societies advise accreditation bodies to apply "reasonable documentation/data collection requirements" to practices seeking to be recognized as medical homes. They recommend that the accreditors partner with vendors of EHRs and electronic registries to add discrete data capabilities so that providers can automatically submit the required data as a byproduct of electronic documentation.

Of course, the use of EHRs has always been considered a prerequisite for providing the level of care coordination required of a PCMH. Indeed, the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) specifically mandates that providers use health IT as a requirement for PCMH recognition. The NCQA recently aligned its updated criteria with meaningful use.

Besides the NCQA, the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, and URAC (formerly known as the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission) already have established PCMH recognition, accreditation, or other relevant programs. The Joint Commission plans to have a program in place by mid-year.

To learn more:
- read the press release
- see the joint guidelines for accreditation bodies (.pdf)
- here's the 2007 joint statement on medical homes (.pdf)
- check out the NCQA criteria