4 ways medical homes can focus on patients

Patient-centered medical homes have become more popular as they help insurers and providers lower costs and improve care. But one challenge that continues to face medical homes is building strong relationships with participating patients, especially taking into consideration individual needs and desires, according to a new report from the Louis W. Sullivan Institute for Healthcare Innovation.

Putting patients at the forefront of medical homes is also key to effectively engaging them in their own healthcare. Engagement should include activities like helping patients manage their chronic diseases, follow through with preventive services, improve their health literacy and encourage healthy choices, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

The consultancy organization put together a list of six principles that can help insurers and providers make a smoother transition to medical homes that's even more patient-focused. Summarized below are four of those principles:

1. Clearly define care teams' roles: Medical homes will find more success when providers adapt to their new roles as coaches and partners to the patients and their care. That means the roles and responsibilities of the entire care team are clearly communicated to the patient, including using name tags that describe each person's degree, specialty and function. To help make the transition, insurers can work with providers to set common, organizational goals to help doctors foster a better environment for patients, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

2. Assess care teams' skills and competencies: Insurers and providers must determine to what level each participating patient can assume responsibility for their healthcare. That could include assessing patients' baseline of engagement, health literacy and decision-making abilities before creating their care plan. What's more, providers' skills and expertise should be appropriately matched with the type of services the medical homes are providing.

3. Allow patients to drive decision-making: Insurers and providers should clearly communicate to patients that they're the ultimate decision-maker for their healthcare. That means providers should frame information in a neutral manner to avoid inserting bias in their communications.

4. Ensure data is accurate: All patient data generated within a medical home must be as current and accurate as possible. Plus, insurers and providers should format the information so that it's easy and intuitive for patients to understand.

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)