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3 building blocks for medical homes


To build a successful patient-centered medical home (PCMH), insurers must implement certain foundational factors, including strong leadership and staff commitment to the care model, adequate information technology and effective patient engagement tools, reported Health IT Analytics.

1. Strong leadership and staff commitment

Transforming a provider practice into a medical home is a huge investment, so without a strong leadership team and commitment from everyone on staff, the model is practically doomed to fail. There must be a clear leadership structure that engages all levels of staff and effectively communicates across the organization.

"When we look at some of our most successful transformations, we see strong leadership buy-in," Michael Meucci, director of transformation and improvement for Arcadia Healthcare Solutions, told Health IT Analytics.

For example, insurers could work with providers to establish a committee made up of leadership positions from executive, practice, medical and technology divisions. Medical homes also can set common, organizational goals to help doctors foster a better environment for patients, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

2. Health IT infrastructure

Another essential building block for medical home success is a solid health IT infrastructure. Electronic health records and other IT capabilities help providers expand their clinical analytics and population health management, thereby improving their ability to conduct risk assessments, stratify patients, preempt nonadherence and prevent hospital readmissions.

Indeed, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found EHRs can greatly enhance medical homes' ability to manage population health and improve patient health, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. For example, the University of Colorado Health is using EHRs to examine risk as well as predict and inform clinical and operational pathways.

"While still early, we are starting to see patterns related to how our patients are interacting with our system and the reimbursement impact of those changes," Steve Hess, University of Colorado Health's chief information officer, told Health IT Analytics. "It is important that our systems are set up to provide the complete patient picture and to ensure that the patient is getting the appropriate care in the appropriate setting at the right time."

3. Effective patient engagement tools

If the medical home is to succeed, providers must effectively engage their patients 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.

If patients don't take the time and energy to invest in their own medical care, PCMHs can't improve quality and lower costs. So insurers have taken various steps to better engage their members. Particularly given the importance of health IT in the medical home model, payers should take advantage of technology to enhance customer intimacy and advocacy. They can also boost patient engagement by incorporating a case manager into the medical home to help keep members healthy.

To learn more:
- read the Health IT Analytics article

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