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Homing In on the Medical Home

Edward Prewitt, for HealthLeaders Media, March 2, 2012

Today, St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group, one of several physician practices under the St. Joseph umbrella, operates as a Level 1 PCMH, as recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Penrose and his colleagues emphasized that achieving this designation was a slow process, requiring substantial investment and groundwork, even for an already integrated health system.

"This isn't a journey that started 18 months ago, or whenever it was that [PCMH] became a big topic. This started for us in 1994, and we built on it. The long-term perspective is very important," said G. Scott Smith, MD, the medical director at St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group.

The medical home approach is in keeping with St. Joseph's approach to healthcare, Penrose said. "We're all about promoting health … thinking about population health, the health of the communities we serve. It's very important to us that we do more than just acute care, but also reaching out into the community—and what a great way to do it," he said. The organization's working definition is that "The Patient-Centered Medical Home describes how primary care practices should operate to ensure high-quality care and patient safety, as well as work within an integrated healthcare system."

Information technology is important for PCMH. The integration necessary for a medical home requires IT connections. St. Jude invested $15 million in information systems, including an electronic medical record system.

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