Next generation PCMH: The community-centered health home

Raw meat and vegetables on a plate

Some of the most powerful weapons in the battle against chronic disease have to do with lifestyle, yet physicians often struggle to get patients to follow through on advice to eat well and exercise. Emerging partnerships between physician practices and fitness centers aim to help solve this conundrum, according to an article from the State.

A new primary care office in Ballentine, South Carolina, for example, is housed in the same building as the local YMCA. The partnership has Jamee Steen, M.D., quite excited. "I would make recommendations on lifestyle changes all the time, and I wouldn't know until I see them again if they had followed them," Steen, who has been in practice for 23 years, told the newspaper. "Now, we'll physically walk them over and attach them to a resource."

There are similar affiliations across the country, according to the article, piggybacking on the movement to create patient-centered medical homes, which are designed to address exercise and nutrition. The next step in building on the PCMH concept, said Rick Foster, M.D., a vice president at the South Carolina Hospital Association, is the community-centered health home, which may include primary care, dental and behavioral health all in one facility. When fitness and wellness programs are included, such facilities can become a community hub. "If you're going to really improve healthcare, it takes a combination of clinical-medical services and other wellness services," Foster said.

A recent study presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology adds fuel to this argument, according to an article from the Detroit Free Press. In what is believed to be the largest study of its kind in cardiorespiratory fitness, medical data examined as part of the Ford (Hospital) Exercise Testing Project, or FIT Project, revealed that cardiovascular fitness provides a 50 percent reduction in the risk of dying early compared to those in poor cardiac health.

"Exercise is the single thing we can do to improve our fitness levels," Steven Keteyian, Henry Ford researcher and study coauthor, told the newspaper. "Are there other factors [in risk of death]? Sure. But the one thing that is pliable is exercise levels," he said.

To learn more:
- see the story from the Detroit Free Press