PCMH: Shouldn't Patients Have Their Say?

Philip Betbeze, April 25, 2014

Recent research that casts a pall on the cost and quality effectiveness of the patient-centered medical home is far from the final word on what patients—especially older, expensive ones—say they want from their physicians.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the compelling research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed no effect on healthcare costs from the patient-centered medical home designation and little improvement in quality of care.

The results reported by JAMA are more than a little concerning for people who theorize that team-based, well-coordinated care is more efficient and less costly, and ultimately benefits patients' health.

They're especially concerning for physician practices that feel they need to make the substantial investment required to achieve PCMH designation. Increasingly, that designation—particularly the top achievement, Level III—is being required of primary care practices in order to attain incentives from payers and other healthcare partners.

Though the research reaches troubling conclusions in both ROI and improvement in quality, it certainly does not end the debate or the push for PCMH designation from payers and others.

In an attempt to find as neutral a source as I could regarding this research and the uncertain future of the PCMH, I spoke recently with Christopher Langston, PhD, program director for the John A. Hartford Foundation, a nonprofit based in New York that attempts to improve the health of older adults.

The foundation provides grants for research and education in geriatric medicine, nursing, and social work. It conducted a recent poll of older Americans who overwhelmingly supported the ideas embodied in the PCMH construct, and he also found the results from the JAMA article "troubling."

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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