Most PCPs on quest to create medical homes

Among 341 U.S. primary care and multispecialty practices surveyed by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), a whopping 70 percent said they were in the process of transforming or were interested in becoming a patient-centered medical home (PCMH). More than 20 percent said they were already accredited or recognized as a PCMH by a national organization.

One leading accreditor, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, confirms that interest in PCMH programs has skyrocketed. According to a recent article in NJ Spotlight, the group had licensed more than 1,500 PCMH facilities by the end of 2010.

These providers "are piloting PCMH models and trying to learn from the pilots what works and what does not," said Ward Sanders, president of the NJ Association of Health Plans, which represents nearly a dozen HMOs. "There clearly have been some early successes that will likely result in a growth of this delivery model."

Nonetheless, MGMA respondents, three-quarters of which said they were participating in medical home demonstration projects, reported challenges in making the transformation to PCMHs. Although the most common struggle (more than 50 percent) was establishing care coordination agreements with referral physicians, roughly 40 percent reported difficulty in financing the transition to a PCMH, coordinating care for high-risk patients, and modifying or adopting an EHR system to support PCMH-related functions. More than 35 percent of respondents also said they had trouble predicting the financial effects of PCMH transformation on their practices.

While practices continue to learn from experience how to make the medical home model work best, they are seeking returns on their efforts through bolstered PR. A recent announcement from Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, for example, noted: "Harvard Vanguard is one of only a few practices in Massachusetts to receive this prestigious national distinction. In addition, Harvard Vanguard's Medford practice ranked among the top recognized primary care practices by scoring a Level 3, the highest recognition status obtainable."

To learn more:
- read the press release from MGMA
- see the article from NJ Spotlight
- see the Harvard Vanguard announcement