Primary Care Medical Home: The Future of Primary Care?

If you watch the news, you probably believe America's primary care system is in dire need of repair.  If you work in primary care, you may have mixed feelings based on your practice setting.  The 'Primary Care Medical Home' concept featured as part of health care reform promises to repair primary care creating a streamlined patient and provider friendly primary care system.  How will this system work?

What is the Primary Care Medical Home?

I recently heard of the Primary Care Medical Home (PCMH) concept while doing some online blogging research and was naturally intrigued.  Advertised as the solution to all problems primary care related, this concept encourages and funds primary care clinics in their efforts to provide comprehensive, coordinated, patient-centered care.  It highlights increased accessibility to medical care and demonstrates commitment to quality and safety.

The proposition for revitalizing primary care encourages members of primary care clinics to work as teams with each member performing to the top tier of their capacities.  Medical assistants, nurse practitioners and physicians should work together.  According to PCMH, physicians must care for the most complex patients to achieve the best possible patient care possible.  Wait times must be reduced in an effort to create convenient access to care.  In this model, clinics are encouraged to block times each day to treat walk-in patients in an effort to reduce unnecessary visits to emergency departments.  Relationships with specialists and mental health professionals should be fostered in order to create a streamlined referral system for patients requiring more specialized care than is offered at the primary care level.

What's the Point?

The goal of the Primary Care Medical Home is to alleviate stress felt by physicians practicing in primary care as well as increase access to primary care for patients.  If physicians can delegate administrative tasks successfully to other members of their medical staff, they will be less stressed and more satisfied with their careers.  The PCMH model hopes to stop the mass exodus of providers from the primary care system the country is currently experiencing.  By focusing on patient care with an emphasis on preventative health, this system also promises to slow the hemorrhage of dollars currently spent on health care in the United States.

What do you think of the PCMH model?  In tomorrow's post, I will share my thoughts.